Posts Tagged ‘creative church’

I’ve been writing this incarnation of this blog since 2012 and I’ve written literally thousands of posts, most of which involve creativity and the church. I am a strong advocate for the church embracing creativity and creative people, but is there ever a time when creativity should stop. Is there ever a time when being creative in the church is “out of bounds.” The answer is yes.

It’s simple really. We can be immensely creative with presentation. Whatever we can do to creatively spread the Gospel, we should do and I know in my heart of hearts, the church has only scratched the surface of what’s possible. We should also go to great lengths to make our presentations memorable and again there is still much ground to be taken in this arena. We can and should teach and preach as creatively possible. We should strive to make things interactive, get people involved, we should find and use the gifts of everyone, as much as possible in the life, mission and ministry of the church and we should put our whole hearts, souls and creativity into the worship of our Lord. Creative opportunities abound and I know there are many more ways than I can conceive today, so where is it out of bounds?

It’s out of bounds when it attempts to change the meaning of the Scripture. The Bible can only mean what God intended it to mean, even if we wish it said something else, even if it doesn’t endorse what we wish it endorsed, even when we think the times and the culture and even the church has changed. The Bible says very clearly Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His opinion is the only one that matters. We live this life submitted to Him and not the other way around. His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways, but his thoughts and ways are ultimately higher and better. We are created in His image and not the other way around. He is the Lord and we are supposed to be growing into His likeness. Believe it or not, this is all incredibly good news. No we can’t change the Scripture, but the good news is, if we will submit to His authority, the Scripture will change us.

The boundaries of the Scripture are our friends. They keep us in the Father’s will and even with these boundaries, the possibilities for creativity are endless in the church. So let’s submit ourselves and our creativity to the One who made us creative and let us watch in amazement as His truth is revealed to the world through us and our work. To God be the glory.

Okay so yesterday I made myself into a case study. If you missed it, go ahead and check it out. This won’t totally make sense without it.

Now you may have read this and thought, (especially if you’ve been around for a while), “This is nothing new, it’s even the stated objective of the website. That is true, but believe me when I tell you, this revelation has been desperately needed in my life. Even with a clear picture, there have been times, especially recently, where I have felt like I am way off task. There are a thousand things I could be weighing in on, that are oh so tempting and yet far off task. In fact some of these things have been so tempting that I have considered starting new blogs o deal with them. At times like that, I have some real discernment to do, and we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Today I want to turn it over to you.

Let’s start with the basic question: 
What is the discontentment I am trying to help others to overcome?
and we’ll add the follow up question:
What is my discontenment?

While reading this blog probably means you have an interest in the church and creativity, it’s highly unlikely that your mission and calling is exactly the same as mine. You might be an artist/creative, looking for how to use your gift to advance the mission of your church or how to minister in the world/marketplace. You might be a pastor, who wants to learn how to work with/recruit/etc. the creative people in your church. Your calling might be evangelism or teaching or preaching or discipleship, or you might just want to make art that communicates your love of Christ in unconventional ways. These are just a few of the reasons you might seek this blog out. What I want to do now is help you to hone in on your mission/ministry and begin to narrow your focus. So start with the above two questions and when you have answered them to your satisfaction, it’s time to add two more.

What’s my calling? and What are My gifts?

When you start to have some clarity on that, there is one final question.

How will I deliver what I am creating to the world?

Needless to say, the first step in this is prayer and it will also take some time to answer these questions, but the work is worth it and leads to a life of purpose.

More tomorrow…

If you missed yesterday’s, go back and check it out, this one will make no sense without it. It’s okay… I’ll wait.

Today let’s put yesterday’s post to work. We’ll start with the question I asked yesterday, and then I will answer it. Please keep in mind this has been a major revelation for me and I am actually working through it as I write. The question is:

What is the discontentment I am trying to help others to overcome?

My answer to that question is ultimately I want to make the world a better place. Great, so does everyone else. Obviously, that’s too broad, so let’s narrow it down.

I want to use my talents to make the world a better place. That’s a little narrower. Now I know some of the tools I will use to accomplish the goal—in my case, art, design, and communication. A little better, but still way too broad, so let’s hone it down a little further with another question.

What is my discontenment?

In other words, What do I want to do? Why do I want to do what I do? How will I make the world a better place? What’s wrong that I want to make right? What needs fixing? What is that thing that makes me say “Someone should do something about this?” This leads to something that I really haven’t touched on yet—calling. This is the divine element that needs to be considered. Look the truth is there are a billion things that would make the world a better place, and you obviously can’t fix them all, but what is the thing that lays on your heart? What is the thing that burdens you?

For me, it comes down to one thing. I believe in the power of the Gospel to change lives. I believe every time someone receives Jesus, their life is changed forever and changed lives will change the world. I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beyond all the eternal benefits, is a great force, the greatest force, for positive change in our world. I believe this because I have seen first hand the good that it has done in my own life. Now we’re getting somewhere.

So I want to help people to come to know Jesus. This, in and of itself, is a lofty goal, but, for me, there’s more. I’ve already identified the tools I can and do use. I could be very satisfied (content) just doing that for the rest of my life, (and I no doubt will) but I feel a broader calling. You see I know I am not alone. I know there are many others in the world with a similar desire. They are creative and they love Jesus and they know He is the answer to solving the world’s problems, but they are banging their heads against the wall (at least metaphorically) trying to figure out the hows and maybe the whys. What if I could help them too? Is there a way to unify our efforts to creatively point the world to Jesus?

Further, God has called me to pastoral ministry, to church leadership. I believe the church is God’s chosen instrument for taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Is there a way that I can unite these two worlds I live in, artist and pastor? Can I help churches to embrace creativity (and creative people) while helping creative people to embrace the church and to empower it (as far as any of us can)?

To be continued.

I was at The Foundry Church in Wallingford, where I serve as artist in residence yesterday. They are using the walls of their worship space as a gallery right now, having just held their first themed show featuring artists from the congregation. The theme was Stained Glass Masquerade. There was a lot of really nicely done art on display. I found this piece mesmerizing.
The piece is constructed of fiber, nails and plywood. The artist created the various tones by varying the amount of wrapping around the nails. I was truly amazed by the piece, and the photo doesn’t really do it justice. The shadows cast by the fiber onto the plywood ground adds even more dimensionality. This is a remarkable piece of art. Then I found out the artist who created it, Samantha Burns, is 15. My jaw just dropped. What a phenomenal talent!

The fact that an artist so young can create such a great piece of work could almost serve to be discouraging. I have serious doubts I could do a piece this good at over three times her age, but that is the wrong response. It’s not about whether or not we can create what someone else can create. Its about creating the things we are called and led to create. What are you doing with your gift? Seeing a young artist with such a great gift should not discourage us but rather encourage us in this.

The time to create is now!

the-walters-art-museum-logoOur trip to Baltimore took us to another wonderful art museum, The Walters Art Museum. Where the Baltimore Museum of Art yielded more contemporary art, the work at the Walters felt more historical. This was a journey back in time. As we viewed the various galleries, I was amazed at how much I saw the Bible brought to life. Many of the artifacts on the lower floors were from peoples and places mentioned in the Old Testament. It was fascinating.

When we arrived on the third floor though, the focus changed. The doors of the elevator opened to reveal a life-sized sculpture of Christ on the cross, surrounded by a magnificently painted altar piece portraying Christ’s passion. Most of the work on this floor was from the church, depicting saints and biblical scenes. This should be no surprise, there was a period in history where the primary patron of the arts was the Church.

the-walters-art-museum This piece was among my favorites. It’s another altar piece. At one point this mammoth sculpture/carving adorned the front of a church in France. It’s intricately carved and depicts the various scenes of Christ’s last days on earth, His arrest, trial, death, burial and resurrection. In a time where most of the population was illiterate, pieces of art like this helped people to see and understand the story. This art, these pictures tell the illustrated story of Jesus and pointed people to their creator.

And that’s when it hit me. This is still our calling as believing creatives. Oh our society is very literate and highly educated, but we’ve drifted from the Gospel, our minds clouded by a plethora of other information. Maybe we need to go back to go forward-back to a time where artists illustrated the greatest truths for the world to see. I believe we’re called to use these gifts we’ve been given to point people to the Truth that will set them free.

I’m not saying we need to make pictures of Jesus or write books (or plays, or music) about Jesus. I’m saying, as believing creatives we need to submit our gifts to the will of the Father, seek Him in prayer, follow His Spirit and do the work He created us to do. Maybe we were born and gifted for such a time as this, to use these “whatever gifts” to spread the Gospel to the end of the earth.

I believe it is time for the church to get creative and to support it’s creatives. To become a patron and supporter of the arts again. To minister to creatives and to empower creatives to do the work the Lord is calling them to do, not just on Sunday morning, but all week long, not just in the Church but in the world beyond, utilizing the arts in the life of the church and in the marketplace to the glory of God.

What would happen if the Church got creative? The answer lies in the heart of God, but I believe it will be spectacular.

Who’s with me?

MISSPOSSI know this is a drum I beat a lot, and I pray you’re not sick of hearing it, but I feel like I have to express it. I’m doing a series of revival meetings this week and as usual they center around using our gift to spread the Gospel, practicing what I preach by using mine. The church is wonderful, the people are wonderful and I feel the Spirit of God moving as I share from my heart. This is my passion, my calling and I love what I get to do.

The one thing I really want to be sure to express though is I am not trying to make the people I speak to into artists. If they’re already artists and I can inspire them to dedicate that gift to the Lord, great, but I’m not trying to make them artists. Instead I am trying to get them to look at why they have been gifted to do and find a way to use it to serve God. So in a sense, while I am not trying to make them artists, I am asking them to be creative. I believe we a children of the ultimate Creator, we all have creativity and it is imperative that we put that creativity into the hands of God and put it to use. We are on a mission and that mission is urgent.

Here’s why: When I first started as an artist, I would create a work of art, copy it and send it out to 10-100 companies, depending on the creation. I would then run to my mailbox every day to see what would come of my efforts. Usually this would amount to a string of rejection letters. The more letters, the harder it was to start the next project. There was nothing else I could do. Working as an artist, getting my work to the masses depended on my ability to get past the gatekeepers and get a deal and a contract. Most of the time it was really disheartening. I don’t do that anymore.

Now I have the internet. I can have all the distribution I can handle and share my work with the masses. I can have my own publishing company with the largest retailer in the world (and I do). I can create a piece of art and have prints for sale in minutes (I have that). I can design and sell T-shirts with my art on it all over the world (I have that too). I can even have my own broadcast channel (ditto). I even have a communication channel where I can share my thoughts with people all over the world (you’re reading that right now). I can do all of that stuff and I do without ever once facing a gatekeeper to tell me I’m not good enough. Most of it costs me NOTHING but time. It’s amazing but there is a catch. Everyone else can do it to. Where before my message had to compete with hundreds or thousands, now I compete literally with billions for the attentions of an already media saturated world. To make a message stand out in that playing field demands creativity.

Friends, the Gospel is just one of those messages. We know it is the most important message, the greatest story ever told. We know it is anointed by the power of God, it also faces more opposition than most of the messages out there from a power whose sole purpose is to resist the Gospel and the salvation is brings. Church, we are up against tremendous odds, admittedly backed by a greater power, but I believe this is God’s mission for our time. I believe this is why He is raising up creatives in the church to find new and powerful ways to take the unchanging message of the Gospel to an ever changing world. If you are a creative in the church. I believe this is your time, our time.

Creatively taking the message of the Gospel to an ever changing world is our mission.

Do you choose to accept it?

Stay tuned!