Pioneering Your Gift In the Church

Posted: January 31, 2021 in Uncategorized

When I first started envisioning creative arts ministry, I sort of felt like a pioneer. No one around me was doing it (at least that I knew of), there were precious few resources (remember it was the 90s) and I pretty much felt like I was inventing it. Of course I know the Lord was leading, providing me with all sorts of ideas and generally helping me, but in the eyes of men and the church, few people knew what to do with me. Then something wonderful happened. The internet was really coming into its own and part of my day job at the time was to begin creating a website. I took the skills I was learning at work and used them create a rudimentary web site. That was the birth of AMOKArts, and a funny thing happened. I started to meet people all over the world who had similar interests. There were all these little pockets out there that were also inventing art ministry and we started to be able to come together.

I also started to meet others who, while not considering themselves artists, could see how some of the things we were creating would be beneficial to their churches. The pioneers were starting to connect and I for one was feeling a whole lot less weird. Eventually I started getting opportunities to travel and do some workshops and I felt my call expand. I started to create art ministry presentations. Now I just needed to get churches to give it a try, and I became a pioneer all over again. No one quite knew what to expect and I had educate them and get them to give me a shot. I learned a few things.

  1. Start with the young. A lot of the first workshops I got to do dealt with ministering to children and youth. This made sense if you think about it. Many children’s ministry resources have ran arts and crafts element to them so the learning curve was not quite as large.
  2. Get referrals. People like to try what has already worked. When someone gave me a shot, I got them to give me a little recommendation. It’s hard to go first, and it’s much easier to take a chance when you see someone else had a good experience.
  3. Overdeliver. Give your very best every time.
  4. Stay biblical. For goodness sake do not be a false teacher. Someone trusting you with their pulpit is the wrong time to push controversial points. I remember a time when my pastor at the time brought in an actor who specialized in portraying the founder of our denomination. I was excited because I love to see different ways to present the Gospel. The problem is this man keyed in on the idea that our founder was a universalist, and took the opportunity to share universalism. Was our founder a universalist? When I get to heaven, I’ll ask him, but today we are certainly not and that teaching proved very controversial and not in a good way. It was a long time before more creative ministry came into that church.
  5. Have a genre. You’ll have to stick with me on this one. One of the things about being a pioneer is that you are doing something different. It’s hard to describe what hasn’t been done before and if no one knows what to do with you, it’s not likely that they will do anything. When I first started my speed painting presentations one maddening thing kept happening. People would come up to me afterwards, nearly every time and tell me about a chalk artist that came to their church in the 50s or 60s or 70s. It was aggravating to me, but then one day I had a revelation. First of all, I know what I do is somewhat different from the chalk talks, but I’ve been blessed by the ones I have seen and I certainly don’t think I am better than them. Relating what I do to chalk talks gives them a context. I do something different from what they did, but they at least have a similar genre which helps the decision makers have an idea where I’m going. Tried and true is less scary so now I embrace the comparison.
  6. Be a blessing. Do something to bless the people who took the risk. One of the things I like to do is leave the paintings I make behind with the people who brought me in. I love seeing photos in churches and seeing my art hanging in the background. Stay connected with these people as well and promote them when you can. By letting you do what it is that you do, the person in question is investing in you. Bless them as best you can.

The point is, Solomon was right, there is nothing new under the sun. We are not alone. God is with us and chances are, if God is on the move in an area, the odds are pretty high that there is someone, somewhere who is trying to do something similar. Find them and pioneer together. Create your work and put it out there for the world to see and where someone embraces it, give them all the help you can for them to help you. If God is leading you to do it, He will make a way, but that way often involves you faithfully doing the work. Help people understand what you do, appreciate the risk they are taking to let you do it, and do it like you were doing it for God, because the thing is…


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