Ryan Hollingsworth


Ryan Hollingsworth, the Creative Director at Elevation Church, pulls back the curtain and unpacks their sermon series planning process and how it has evolved over the years. He also explains what to do when your pastor doesn’t tell you what he is preaching in advance and how creatives can form a healthy relationship with their pastor.

Your brand is your best asset and your biggest liability. @ryansworth Share on X

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Show Notes

What's in this episode?

  • Elevation Church sermon series planning evolution (7:32)
  • What happens when a series bombs (“Thumb War”) and why Elevation shut down series for a year (10:23)
  • What to do when your pastor doesn’t tell you what he is preaching ahead of time or utilize series (11:55)
  • Where Elevation Church sermon series are right now (12:59)
  • How a creative team can form a helpful partnership with their pastor (15:43)
  • The perfect sermon series planning formula... (18:35)
  • The importance of being self-aware as a pastor and knowing who you are as a church (21:07)

I work better creating albums over singles. @stevenfurtick @ryansworth Share on X

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Life Church Social Spreadsheet

Ryan Hollingsworth shares questions that have been used at Elevation Church over the years during the sermon series planning and creative process.

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4 Highlights - Elevation Church Sermon Series

  • We would always build out the the series graphic first and then move to building out other programming assets: video, live elements, etc. We always tried to start with a consistent piece so we were all coming from the same creative ethos, look & feel.
  • Figure out a way to get the values of (topic) in front of people while creating marketing and branding around. What are we really creating? What’s at the heart beat of it? Stuff that has really great content and depth to it that is going to make an impact or drive people to action vs… what just looks nice.
  • My job as a creative on this church staff is to serve the church. Whether’s it the ministries I serve or what our pastor wants to do on the weekend and work within the constraints they give. Work within the box, this is the time we have, what’s the best thing I can do with that time?
  • When you're serving at a church, you need to ask: What is our DNA? Who are the people we are trying to reach? What are their needs? What's our vision and mission?

The best message deserves the best presentation. @stevenfurtick @ryansworth Share on X

Amplified Impact Round (23:29)

Q: How do you develop your church brand?
A: Understand what a brand is... it's not what I say, but what others say it is. Stay close to the voice of leadership and having that common experience. Have consistency in language. Regular evaluation. Your brand is your best asset and your biggest liability.

What’s the most important aspect of a church communication strategy?
A: A unified message. Consistency does build trust. If you have a series coming up, make sure you use the same language from the stage.

Q: What’s your favorite tool for ministry? (website, app, tool, program, etc.)
A: Google Docs & Basecamp Classic

Q: Any ideas for empowering church members to invite their friends?
A: We operate with a raving fans mentality. It’s much more effective marketing if I don’t tell you how treat the church is, but someone who has had their life changed tells you this church is amazing. Let’s equip people with a clear vision and mission and give them effective invites.

Who do you recommend I interview on the podcast next? Why?
A: Joshua Blankenship (about branding & marketing), Ishmael Burciaga (about creativity).

Reach Out

You can reach out to Ryan via email rhollingsworth@elevationchurch.org or at @ryansworth on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Suggested Guest

Ryan suggested that I interview Joshua Blankenship (used to be at NewSpring Church about branding & marketing), Ishmael Burciaga (used to be at Gateway Church, and now runs Circles Conference about creativity).