Do You Feel USED by the Church?

Posted: September 18, 2015 in church art ministry resources
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I have to admit I never really thought of it this way. My arts ministry started when I came to Christ and my pastor asked me to create a backdrop for Vacation Bible School. I loved it and it gave me the realization that I could use my creative gifts to serve the Lord. It was the inception of all that you see here. Several years later, I was listening to another art minister and he began sort of lambasting the idea of churches asking their artists to do the proverbial Noah’s Ark mural in the nursery. I have to admit, it threw me a little. Realizing the humble beginning of all I have been blessed to do, I wanted to take him to task (and to be honest, I did) asking about the idea of using your gifts to serve, demonstrating faithfulness, etc. It felt a little belittling, and a little prideful to be honest. “Who are you to ask me to do something so humble, I AM AN ARTIST!” Yep, I went all the way to judgmental?

In more recent years, I have heard more about the heart that comes behind this. I’ve met several artists who have felt used by the church. Again this felt a little foreign to me, because quite frankly, my bigger frustration is just getting churches used to the idea that the arts, especially the visual arts, can be utilized in the church at all. Yet as I heard their hearts, I began to understand. There is a real balance that needs to be accomplished. We want to utilize artists without using artists. We want artists to minister but we also need to make sure we are ministering to artists.

First things first. The church needs it’s creatives to be creating. This means the church needs to create a welcoming and encouraging environment for creatives. The church needs to be a safe place to try new things which means it needs to be a safe place to fail, because try as we might, the only person who gets it right every time is God. Trying new things is risky but it is the very soul of creativity, after all doing what you’ve always done is not creative in the least. The church needs creativity more than it has ever needed it before. If we are going to succeed in taking the unchanging word of God to an ever changing world, we’ve got to get creative. It’s time to take those artists off the sidelines and get them into the “game.” Otherwise we’ll do what we’ve always done and if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got. The time to get creative is now. We’re a body, time to get the creative hands moving.

Secondly, artists, we need to understand that leadership, especially pastors are taking a huge risk every time they try something new. There is likely to be backlash on everything and we need to make sure we are giving our very best, on time, every time. We expect our leaders to have our backs, but in the same way we need to have theirs. Also sometimes we need to humble ourselves and do the Noah’s Ark mural, as a demonstration of faithfulness, which by the way is the overarching theme of our whole part of this. I often actually tell artists that if you want to open the door to the arts in a closed off church, start with the children’s and youth ministry. People seem to be more open toward using the arts there. Sometimes you have to humble yourself and prove yourself faithful in order to open the door to what you really want to do.

A big part of this is an open dialog. If you start to feel used, have a conversation, right away, and make it the kind of conversation you would want someone to have with you. And one more thing, it’s okay to say, “no.” Remember we are supposed to put God first in our lives, but some folks confuse that with putting the church first. Those are two different things. It’s not okay to say no to God but it is okay to say no to the church. If you’re feeling used, talk about it, with the people who can actually do something about it.

I’m in kind of a strange place in that I walk in both of these worlds. I’m an artist and a church pastor. I know the pressures on both sides. There are ways for artists and churches to thrive together…

And we need to find them… and find them now.

  1. Wendi says:

    Great words!! I’m taking a break from serving at the moment but I’m praying for God to provide me a new place/way to serve. 😊

  2. Wendi says:

    Reblogged this on Art of Wendi C and commented:
    Good things to think about here…

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