Archive for the ‘church art ministry resources’ Category


Hey everyone, I’m pleased to announce I will be serving as a moderator for this year’s class of students at ArtFruition.comFounded by my friend Jessie Nilo of VineArts Boise, Art Fruition is an online school for people wanting to use their creative gifts to serve the Lord. As a moderator, I will be there to encourage and assist students as they complete the course. If you’d like to learn more about Art Fruition or sign up, go to ArtFruition.com

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I’m guessing someone needs this today. Thanks Bart, This’ll preach.


A $14.99 piece of carved wood inspired an adventure into the Unknown. Fresh parables from God are found everywhere! Elizabeth Barrett Browning opened my eyes with this reminder:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;

Candice Olson, host of a TV program that tackles challenging home design dilemmas, was a co-contributor to the inspiration. On one of her recent episodes, she purchased a chair for the family room she was designing. It was called the Smoke Chair. I call it the Charred Chair. The classic wood carved chair had been torched to create a cracked patina of burnt wood. It was beautiful!

So a few weeks ago, standing in the aisle of HomeGoods, I looked at a glossy-varnished wood heart and my spiritual eyes saw it transformed into a heavily-textured charred parable.

I love to redesign found objects and provide worship participants context in which to create altered worshipart. This process slows down time, and like Jesus’ writing in the sand of the temple, it provides that unmeasured moment when the natural barriers between heaven and earth become very thin. And God, in that suspended space, speaks the Truth to us individually, like the words that healed the prostitute’s abused heart and the words that penetrated the conscience of each of her accusers.

Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit of God would heal the broken hearted and, as the Message puts it, “give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes.” What a promise of restoration. What a beautiful picture!

We explored the parable of Beauty from Ashes over several worship gatherings. The first weekend, using a plumber’s torch with MAPP gas, we scorched the wood heart. Then, using coffee filters, florist wire and watercolor paints we created a magnificent bouquet of roses to “bloom” from the charred heart.

Everyone shared in reading the Story of the freed captive, the prostitute who stood on the sacred sand in the midst of her accusers. Tradition suggests that it was this same woman who came into the midst of quite possibly the same group of accusers, when she crashed Simon’s party. What a daring risk she took as she poured out her praise, her oil of joy, anointing her Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

I have experienced that when you provide the time and opportunity for the creative work of the people, texturized liturgy, God’s Story is revealed in real-time. It takes your breath away, the air is so thin. It makes curated worship beautiful.

We always provide an opportunity for interpersonal interaction, some might call it an icebreaker; I think of it more as a heart softener. For the second weekend of our Beauty from Ashes, I placed a generous stack of Table Topic™ cards on each table. These cards are a great conversation starter with some provocative questions. Active participation promotes community and lowers barriers, authentic participation thins the air.

Chris was the second person to read his card out loud. I was so proud of him! He read the card all by himself and didn’t need any help sounding out the words. He started attending our group when he was 5 years old and was very timid. Now, at age 7, he is eager to be involved with everything we do. His card asked this question, “If you could do anything without risk of injury, what would you do?”

He pondered the question on his card. I suggested that he think about it and offered the same question to Jack. Jack is in his mid 20’s and is an extreme sportsman. He rock climbs, backpacks mountains in the middle of ice storms and has conquered Central America in his four-wheeling truck-beast. He is angry with God, but regularly attends our gathering. His engagement to the love-of-his-life didn’t happen. The ring was refused. He was rejected. It’s been almost a year. He is a bitter man. Usually he is sullen and slouches low in a chair at the back of the gathering room. I don’t know why I offered for Jack to answer the question while Chris considered his response. Maybe it was because I thought that it was a “safe” question, an easy question for our adventurous explorer. Void of vulnerability.

“If you could do anything without risk of injury, what would you do?”

Jack turned his eyes away and looked down at the floor. Then, in a very soft voice, Jack responded, “I would open my heart.”

God speaks. God moves. God is beautiful.
we respond. we create. we worship. Michael Card


This morning at the gym, I heard a song that may be the anthem for poor choices. I don’t know the title of the song or the artist. I just know the chorus repeats ad-nauseum, “I like us better when we’re wasted.” Now I do premarital counseling and if I ever heard a couple say this to me, I would 1.) refuse to marry them, and 2.) advocate that they run screaming from this relationship as quickly as possible. If you need to abuse substances to stand being around someone, I could be wrong but it seems that the relationship might be less than constructive, which is my nice way of saying “doomed!” This is the kind of music I hear every day. It’s almost all auto-tuned, with lots of synthesized instruments. I know I’m supposed to speak the truth in love, so I will say that occasionally there is a beat that I can sync with to get the stationary bike going a little faster, but other than that, I just can’t stand it.

It was after another gym session and having seen the ad for another cinematic masterpiece last night just before bed, that inspired this semi snarky Facebook Post.

‘Okay here’s my creative conundrum. If the music I hear at my gym can get recorded, I can write a hit song. If Sharknado 5 (yes, 5) can get made, I can make a movie. That is all.”

Here’s the thing. I really mean it and I want to do it. Now I have no musical ability, so the hit song might be tough. Of course, I do know musicians who can do some heavy lifting on this. But the movie thing… I’m serious as a funeral about that, metaphorically speaking. I don’t care if it’s a low-budget, direct to video Christian film, I just want to tell a story that will touch hearts and minds and inspire someone to do something good in this world. I want to create something that spurs someone, and ideally a lot of people, on to love and good deeds. After all, God didn’t make me a creative to keep this stuff to myself. He didn’t make you creative for that either.

Let’s create great stuff and get it out there for the world to see. We have to be able to do better than some of the really destructive stuff (not to mention bad) stuff that is out there.

So what about you? What is the project that is banging on the walls of your heart, trying to get out?


I’m at this church conference and there’s this word I keep using. It’s a word I don’t know that I’ve every used so often. I’ve used it about my marriage and my wife a lot. I’ve used it about my kids and my daughter in law and my grandson a lot, but when it came to my career, I never used it like I’m using it now. The word is happy.

You see as I come to this conference, I realize how many people I’ve been blessed to come to know over the last five years as I’ve traveled the nation running A.M.O.K. It’s so cool to have so many people in a concentrated area. I see people I know at virtually very turn and while we’re usually headed in opposite directions and only have a few seconds, we ask how each other is doing and I usually end up saying something about being happy. I feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing and it’s starting to show.

Strangely, in some ways I am working harder than I have ever worked, but there is a fulfillment I’m not sure even I expected. I figured I’d never be a pastor again when my church plant closed. In some ways I was actually okay with that. I was loving the traveling art ministry (I still do) and between that and a day job that helped to pay the bills, I was okay. When the day job went away, I thought I was in deep trouble, but the Lord provided and I got a large amount of bookings that really helped. I started envisioning maybe being a full time speaker. I loved it and I still do. The problem was I was starting to feel a lot of pressure to book more and more things. I got a call out of the blue to serve as an interim pastor for a couple months over the winter when speaking was traditionally slow. I agreed to do it and discovered that the church was a fit about the same time they discovered I was a fit. It all worked and I became the permanent pastor. I was very happy. I loved it and I still do.

Now here’s the thing. What I’ve learned is my church ministry makes me better at my traveling ministry and the messages I write for church help a flow of fresh ideas for presentations to keep rolling into my mind. On the other hand my traveling ministry makes me better at my church ministry. I’ve become a much better speaker on the road and mist importantly I get a lot of experiences on the road that give me fresh stories for my congregation. I imagine most of you have been in churches where the pastor’s stories start to become a little too familiar. That is due at least in part to the fact that the pastor spends so much time in one place that he or she doesn’t get many new experiences. Further when I am out, my congregation gets to hear other voices and other perspectives which is good for them as well.

God has been good to me and I am blessed. More than that, Most of the time, I’m happy.


My message for Father’s Day 2017. I pray it blesses you.


I was out of work, my day job had gone away and I was trying to figure out where I was headed and looking for some work along the way when i saw a listing looking for something called a “Master Artist.” Well I didn’t really know that it was and Rembrandt is a master artist, not me, but it had artist in the title so I decided to investigate. It turns out the listing was a for a paint party service. As part of the application process, I went to be a participant in a paint party and had a great time but I also had a thought. I could do this myself. So I rounded up some easels and some supplies and started to do a few here and there and I found it was fun. One of my life missions is to help people embrace their creativity and this seemed a great way to do it.

Fast forward, I find myself accepting a call to be an interim pastor. I wondered how would a paint party work as an outreach/fellowship opportunity for the church. Well we tried one and we were so pleased with the results that we have been doing them ever since.

I started by coming up with a simple painting that I could teach others how to paint in about an hour-90 minutes and then publicized it to the church, making flyers they could hand out to their friends featuring the picture they would be painting. We set up tables in our fellowship hall with easels, brushes and paint for each participant. We also posted a sign up sheet so we would have at least a rough idea of how many people were coming.

The event itself lasts two hours. I start off with a few rules. Most of these are humorous, just to remind the people that we are there to have a good time and to set their minds at ease. Then I just teach the painting step by step. About half way into the party, we take a 15 minute or so break to talk, look at each other’s work and let the paint dry. We did the first one as a free event and started charging a small amount to cover materials after that (less than a third of what the commercial painting parties charge). The people also bring snacks which are hared throughout the night.

I find everyone ends up laughing together and having a great time and it’s a great way to build community. There’s no high pressure evangelism with this. I usually just plan on painting in my service the following Sunday and invite the people to come and see what I do. We’ve had a few people actually take us up on that, which was nice. Also it seems that everyone who comes, comes back and many bring a friend with them. This has been a great way to get to know people and open doors to the church.