Archive for November, 2014

Let’s go a little further, even if a person’s calling, vision and gifting truly doesn’t line up with your vision, if it’s godly, there is still a lot you can do. You can encourage. You can support them. You can allow them to do what they do in a missionary capacity to your community under the covering of your church, or at the very least, you can direct them to someone with whom their vision fits. God does not waste His gifts. If He has given something, He expects it to be put to use. It is up to the Church to empower and encourage.

One final thought. I can also feel my pastor brothers and sisters sweating a little. “Dave, I literally don’t have any more time to start something new.” No one has asked you to. This is not meant to add another burden to already overburdened servants. On the contrary, done right, this should be a help and not a hurdle. My friend Rick, pastors an awesome church in Hawaii. Part of their core values posted on their website used to say something to this effect. “If you come to us (the leadership) with something you want to do for God, we’re most likely going to say yes. If you come to us with something you want us to do, we’ll most likely say no.” That is the key to this. Anyone who has served in church leadership for any length of time knows there are lots of people who can come with lots of things for other people to do. The creative church realizes a very important principle. When God lays something on a person’s heart, as if to say “someone should do something about this,” it is more than likely that God is calling that person to head the charge. The permission giving church says, “Go for it,” provides someone to give authority over the project and perhaps suggests gifted people to help move the mission forward. From there it is the responsibility of the person called (the one who received the “nudge”) to move forward starting by working faithfully with what they already have.

The reason for all this is pretty simple. The 20-80 rule is in full effect in the church. That is 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. Some of this is due to people having their priorities way out of whack, but some it is also due to people not being able to fine their role or feeling that there is no place were their gifts fit. There are three downsides to the 20-80 rule. The first is that the 20 percenters get tired and burned out. The second is the church never can get beyond maintenance and onto mission and the 80 percent become increasingly uninvolved and start to treat worship as if it is something to be consumed. They go to worship for the show and once that happens, they will look for the best show in town, whether that is in the church or in something else. We have got to do better. We have got to give people the opportunity to be who God made them to be and do what God gave them to do. We need to give them permission to use it in the context of the local church, either as ministers or missionaries and we need to empower them with prayer, leadership and (at least emotional and spiritual) support.

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Creative Church Manifesto coming soon from AMOKBooks

I get to speak to a fair amount of artists in my ministry, both online and in person. Often there seems to be a disconnect. Many seem to feel their work has no place in the church. In some cases that is a situation of you have not because you ask not and they need to approach the people in leadership with a sense of boldness, but in other times their concerns are justified. The gift isn’t a part of what they are already doing and so it is unnecessary. To my mind this is often a vision problem.

The old saying goes, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” If we desire to see people reached, lives changed and local regional and world-wide transformation, what we’ve always done is simply not going to get it done. Further, if we believe in this whole body of Christ image, the passage clearly states that there are no unnecessary gifts or people, just as there are no unnecessary parts of the body (tonsils, adenoids and appendix not withstanding.)

Do we believe that God has created people on purpose? Do we believe that God brings people together to form congregations on purpose? If we believe those two things then we have to be open to the idea that if God provides people blessed with gifts and talents to congregations, he might just be wanting the congregation to put those gifts to work. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is not and never should be a reason to exclude anyone. The people and their gifts are a gift from God and more than a gift they are a tools to be utilized to accomplish God’s mission for your congregation. They don’t need to be stifled, they need to be empowered and given permission to be who God has created them to be. The church needs to be creative. Preserving the status quo will not be acceptable at the judgement seat.

Even as I write this, I can almost hear the resistance. What if the person is not gifted in the area where they believe they are? I know, I’ve watched the opening episodes of American Idol too. I know some people seriously overestimate their own giftedness and will have to be guided into other areas (you’ll see more of this in coming under authority, in a few chapters), but let us never use this as an excuse for not helping people to develop and use their gifts.

Another resistance will be “but we don’t have the resources.” This doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. A truly gifted person determined and empowered to serve will use what they have and work to find the resources to go beyond that. Both of these things actually build character in the creative. I thank God every day that one of my first art jobs was designing and creating scenery for the musicals at a local high school. It taught me to use what I had and work on a limited budget. These are disciplines necessary for any creative.

Still others will say, “that doesn’t fit with our vision.” Before you throw this one out, are you sure your vision and God’s vision are still aligned. Is it really a vision or are you worried some “stuck in their ways” person will be disgruntled. Remember what God says about our ways related to His? Ours aren’t His, His are higher than ours, so a person stuck in his or her ways may be in need of repentance. After all if a person stuck in his or her ways is standing between our church and God’s vision, the best thing you can do is lovingly correct them.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two

I know I share this every year but it bears repeating. I know some of you started yesterday but as we go into the mayhem of shopping for Christmas, remember the gift behind the gifts. The gift that will last after all the stuff we have bought disappears. Invest in what lasts forever. Share love and grace. Don’t spend yourself into stress and wreck the day. It’s all about love.

Live your love. Give your love. All the other stuff is just stuff.

rockwellthanksgivingIt is to my mind, the most iconic expression of Thanksgiving, Norman Rockwell’s famous Saturday Evening Post cover. The guy was a true genius at expressing the best parts of life. All those happy people around a table about to share in a wonderful feast. You can literally feel the love in the room.

Love it what it’s all about you know. The meal may be different depending on where you go, you may even be in a place that doesn’t celebrate the day or maybe you’re distant from your family and unable to get to your own family dinner, but regardless of the meal, ultimately love supersedes the meal.

You might think I’m a little off today saying it’s all about love. You say, “Umm Dave, what it’s all about is right there in the title, ‘Thanksgiving.” Why are we thankful? Because we serve a God who loves us enough to provide for our needs and give us people to love. That’s what we’re really thankful for, isn’t it?

I always try to get you to be creative, and today is no different except that what we do today is not going to be done with art supplies. Today it’s done with love. Today I believe we should all seek ways to love creatively. Commit little acts of kindness. Go out of your way to mend fences and restore broken relationships. Break tensions, lay aside offenses and love. Lovingly share the truth of Jesus as opportunities arise.

As of today, I will have done 51 Thanksgivings on this planet. As I sit at the table today, faces will be missing. Faces I won’t see again in this life. Faces I miss dearly, and this much I know to be true, I am thankful for each one of them. God gave them to me as a blessing and for them I am thankful. Love and thankfulness really are synonymous.

The passage I am always drawn to for Thanksgiving is from Colossians 3:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Better words for this day were never spoken. Make these your words of instruction as you gather with your loved ones and make this an awesome day. Get creative if you have to.

Be Thankful and love…

My creative arts group is working through Erwin McManus’ amazing book The Artisan Soul. One of the recurring themes on the book is “Bees make hives, ants make colonies but humans make futures.” Some folks may want to kick against that idea but I find it to be true. Yes it is true that God is sovereign over everything, but it’s hard to argue that the choices we make and the things we create play a big part in the future we live.

The overarching theme of it all is at the top of this page. You are a work of art and an artist at work. You were created by God. You are His masterpiece and you were created to create. God places within us and entrusts us with gifts, talents and more things that are of incredible value and calls us to put these things to work to build His Kingdom, draw people to Him and reflect His glory.

You are a work of art, prized and loved by your perfect Creator.
You are an artist at work…

What is the future you are creating?

cleanI have a confession. I have a character flaw. I, Dave Weiss, am not always the best listener. Blame it on my Y chromosome (the one that makes me male) but as soon as I hear the problem my ears switch off and my brain goes to work praying (hopefully) and seeking to solve the problem. This happened to me over the weekend.

I preached and painted in this wonderful church. My topic was Hurried, Buried and Worried. It’s based on The Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25 and it’s about using your gifts to serve the Lord. This message and theme is a passion of mine as you already know. The people in the congregation were wonderful and attentive. I had a great time.

After the service, a young woman came up to talk to me. She complimented the message and began to tell me that she had a cleaning business and my ears switched off. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about her or her business, I was just anticipating the question that usually comes next, “How can I use that to serve the Lord?” and I was trying to formulate the answer. Fortunately, I didn’t stay out long because, before long SHE WAS ALREADY TELLING ME how she uses it. I really need to learn to listen up to the question before going for the answer. What she said was remarkable. She said, when she cleans houses she looks for opportunities to share the Gospel. It seems simple enough but there is a huge key here. Think about who this woman is. She is a house cleaner, but it’s so much more than that. She is someone people trust enough to give her a key to their home. She has access to the most intimate areas of their homes. In case you missed it the key word in this statement is TRUST. She earns their trust by being honest and dependable and once she has earned their trust (not through manipulation but by doing her best work) she gains permission to speak the truth in love. What a wonderful example, but it goes deeper.

She told me about a group of which she is a part that cleans homes for women with cancer. What a great way to serve others at a really hard time in their lives and glorify God in the process. I was so glad she told me her story and I plan on sharing it often. She cleans houses to advance the Kingdom and glorify God.

How can you use your gift?

diffI loved what happened yesterday. I was ministering at a really wonderful church as part of their friendship Sunday, a day when they made a concerted effort to reach out to their community. And as often seems to happen, when we make a concerted effort at outreach, things started going wrong. That wasn’t what I loved. Speakers started feeding back, which got fixed minutes before the start of the service. That wasn’t what I loved. Their worship leader was sick and unable to be there (didn’t love that of course) so they had to go with recorded tracks (I’m good with that.) Then as we began singing, the tracks started giving them trouble, skipping, cutting out, etc. (I felt for my hosts on that one too. Technology is great but it has failed most of us at one time or another and no one loves that.) I was painting during this time with my back to the congregation and that is when the thing that I loved happened. The people kept right on singing. The ones who knew the songs, led everyone else. It was as if to say, “nothing is going to keep us from praising God.” It ended up being a great service.

Friends there will always be things that work to try to keep us from praising God and they seem to especially happen at the most inopportune times. It’s usually in those moments when we need to praise God the most. God is always worthy of our praise, don’t let a few inconveniences stop you from praising God.

How can you praise God in the midst of struggles?

fb_icon_325x325As you know, I have a very strong desire to build a song online community of Christian creatives for the purpose of supporting, encouraging and resourcing our ministries. Of course, this blog exists for that very purpose, but I have also decided to take this to other channels in hopes of expanding our reach. So there is now an AMOKArts group on Facebook. If you’re interested in Sharing ideas, getting answers to your questions, getting and giving encouragement, this group is for you!

Post your creations, share your resources, ask your questions, and on and on.
Join us today…

1511141_10152437276997190_1144053722466608095_nAs pastor of creative arts at my church, I get asked to help design creative things for the church. For last year’s advent series, I did three large paintings down in my studio by myself. They came out great and it was fun, but something was missing. This year I designed the work and handed it off to the creative arts team. My pastor’s wife took them from there she converted them into three dimensional pieces. Then the team painted them and I came in and helped to do some detail. I love to create but it is so much more fun to create in community. What we created will be used to enhance the messages, beautify the church, etc. What a great experience.

This is one of the pieces. There’s a different one for each message. These pieces are part of how we will express the story of Jesus. What is your church doing for advent? How can you and/or your church use your creative gifts to bring forth the meaning of this most joyous time of year?

Share your ideas in the comments below.

So here’s what happened. A new friend of mine contacted me. He saw the animation work I did for our recent district conference. He was wondering what program I used to do it and if the program would be easy enough to use, because he wanted to make a clip for his upcoming message. Well the truth is, my animations are done using a combination of hand drawing, Photoshop, and iMovie HD. I’m sure there is an easier way of doing this, but it’s a process I developed by trial and error, so probably not the easiest thing for someone else to do. My friend is a good guy, his project seemed simple enough to be done in a few hours, so I offered to give it a try and when he sent me the script, I knew I had to give it a try.

The message behind this video is on prayer but it’s more than that. This is the kind of prayer we pray when God feels silent and faith feels weak. If Christians are honest, I think most of us will admit there are times when this happens to us all. I know it has for me. Here’s what we have to remember, trouble in this world is a promise of Jesus (John 16:33) and when trouble comes it is not an indication of God’s failure, His loss of love for us or  or anything else. It’s a condition of life in a fallen, broken world. God never promised us a trouble free life, instead He promises never to leave nor forsake us. My prayer is this short simple clip is a blessing to my friend’s congregation and also that it will be used to remind someone who reads this post and watched the clip that you are not alone. All of us experience trouble, and through that trouble, we can know, God is with us.