The following is an excerpt from my upcoming manifesto (short book) Ministering to the Creative Soul.
My name is Dave and I’m a creative.
I have always been a creative. To quote Lady Gaga, I was “born this way.” To quote a much greater source, I am “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God created in advance for [me] to do.” Ephesians 2:10, slightly paraphrased. The things is while I have always known I was creative, I haven’t always known I was God’s workmanship. As a creative, I have always felt somewhat misunderstood and had a hard time fitting in. We don’t all feel that way, but I did and those “alienated” feelings without a faith in God left me in a very bad place. I’ll chronicle how I got from there to here later in this manifesto but suffice it to say when I found Jesus and figured out where my gifts and talents fit into the body of Christ, all I wanted to do was help everyone I could to find their “fit” in this awesome thing called the Church.
I decided the best way to do this was to start an art group in my church. I had become the youth leader and I thought perhaps the best way to start it would be in my youth ministry. It didn’t work. Oh we did some really fun creative projects and I’d like to believe they helped my students to take the teachings to heart but it didn’t become the group I’d envisioned. My next thought was to gather creatives from the local churches. That didn’t really work either. Sometimes getting artists to work together is kind of like herding cats. I was really feeling like a failure. I had this vision and I just couldn’t seem to get there. By now you might be thinking why am I reading this? This guy is clearly under qualified. Not so fast.
You see I kept on ministering. Maybe my youth group wasn’t becoming an arts ministry, but these God-given ideas were useful in helping my students to learn to follow Jesus. Maybe my art group wasn’t gelling and getting where I thought it should go, but I was connecting with other creatives in other churches who were seeking to use their gifts to serve the Lord. Maybe everything wasn’t looking as I envisioned, but I was continuing to be faithful and give God my best and out of that a new ministry was born.
God just kept giving me ideas. More than I could use at any one given time so I would write them down. I already knew there were others out there that were seeking to use their creative gifts to serve the Lord. I began to wonder what would happen if I shared these ideas with the larger Church. About the same time, I was learning web design for my day job and the result was what would become AMOKArts.com. Through that venue God has allowed me to minister to creatives all over the world with ideas and encouragement. It has opened doors for me to travel all over the U.S. and meet a lot of people, teach people what I’ve learned and learn more than I ever would have had my first vision come to fruition the way I envisioned it. I still have that vision for a creative group and I have no doubt that it will one day become a reality and when it does the experience I am gaining with what I am doing now will be invaluable.
Why do I share this story? Because if you embark on a creative ministry, there will be things that feel like false starts and failures. There will be times when the distance between you and your vision will seem huge and discouraging. If you minister to creatives, this frustration will just be compounded, because everyone you minister to will likely find themselves in this place often. The reason for this is simple. Creatives MUST fail! We don’t have a choice in the matter. Well actually we do, if we never try anything, we won’t fail, but if we do that we cease to be creative. To be creative is to fail and fail often. The thing is these things aren’t really failures. They are the things that teach us, the things we learn from, the things God uses to guide us on the path to victory. Christ-following creatives will become very acquainted with Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)