Posts Tagged ‘creative ministry’

I know that title could be taken in a very negative way, but that’s not how I mean it. No instead I want to know what you would like to see on this site. How can I help you? What kinds of services should I be offering? What do you want to know about? The nice thing about this site is the field of creativity and the church is very wide with lot of possibilities. The struggle of this site is the same. What I want more than anything else is to glorify God. What I want almost as much is to help all of us creatives to do the same.

So for the coming year, what do you want from me? How can I serve and bless you? How can I help you to thrive as you use your gift to serve the Lord?

Because that is what I really want to do!

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.

diplomaWell it finally happened. When I graduated high school, my plan was to go to art school. My parents thought that was a terrible idea. They figured that it would be very hard for me to be successful (they may have been right). Being a bit insecure, I decided to go to school to be an electronics engineer, because the school promised some perks they never delivered and a high salary when I finished. Well at the end of the day, pie in the sky was not enough, I had no aptitude and I flunked out. From that point on I just decided to hustle and lo and behold I actually made my living in the arts for quite a few years and in a sense I still do, though of course now ministry also is a large part of it. I feel like over all I have had a pretty successful life at least in terms of working in my giftedness and having blessed to impact some people in the process. I really feel blessed.

But there was one part of my life that had always been a disappointment. You see I never finished my degree. That part of life always felt like failure because I always knew in the right course of study, it was something I could have done, but never did. Now to be clear had done a lot of course work for the ministry, not to mention a lot of real life experience in both pastoring and itinerant ministry. I had also done a lot of work in developing creative arts ministry, thousands of hours for sure, including having written several books, thousands of blog posts, lessons and other materials. I was all in on this and still no degree.

Then one day I heard about a school offering a degree in creative ministry and I applied. The end result is at 53 years old I have finally earned my degree. This has inspired to me to continue my study to earn a masters of divinity. I know most people have achieved this milestone in their early twenties, but I am just delighted to have gotten there and I look forward, Lord willing, to what comes next.

Tonight I have the awesome privilege of teaching the subject of art in worship during a class on worship for people training to be pastors. I am so looking forward to this evening. The following is the copy of a handout I will be sharing. There are just some of the things to be thought about when using the arts in ministry and worship. I hope this blesses you in your creative ministry pursuits.

Why Art Should Be a Part of Worship.

Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others. 1 Peter 4:10

  • Beauty is something only humans can behold it’s a mark of our being created in the image of God.
  • The first person to be called filled with the Spirit in Scripture is Bezalel, an artist.
  • It draws people into the message.
  • Many, if not most, people are visual learners. Adding the visual adds impact to the message.
  • The rest of the world utilizes the arts to get their message across
  • The act of making art, like music, is can be an act of worship
  • Art is no more a distraction than music
  • Don’t forget the other art forms, storytelling, drama, comedy, dance, etc.
  • The ultimate goals of art in worship are the same as the rest of the service. 1. To worship, honor and glorify God and 2. to help the congregation to remember the message, take it to hear and put it into action.
  • What I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I understand. If our goal is helping people to understand, not to mention action, we need to move toward visual and tactile.

Why the Church Needs Creativity

  • Gets more people involved.
  • Eliminates consumer mentality.
  • Creates opportunities to reach more people.
  • Takes the load off the pastor.
  • It’s biblical, see Ephesians 4:12
  • People are bombarded by millions of messages every day. How do we make our message (the most important message there is) stand out? How do we take the unchanging message of the Gospel to an ever changing world?VERY CREATIVELY.
  • How do we utilize all the parts of the Body of Christ?

Ways to use art and utilize the artists/designers in your congregation

Worship Service/Teaching

  • Live painting/art illustrating message, coordinating with the message.
  • Previously prepared art
  • Creative presentation graphics/announcement slides, etc.
  • Flyers
  • Bulletin covers
  • Pulpit area/sanctuary decoration based on themes
  • Children’s bulletins
  • Murals, wall graphics
  • Themed art displays, installations
  • Vacation Bible School displays and props
  • Drama sets and props
  • Teaching projects and crafts
  • Illustrated lessons
  • Custom teaching tools
  • Special programs
  • Children’s/youth activities
  • Interactive teaching/hands on projects
  • Design creative worship spaces/stations
  • Create take away materials

Community outreach

  • Art lessons
  • Italian street painting
  • Face painting
  • Custom outreach materials
  • What your church’s creatives need from you.

    • Opportunities
    • Encouragement and support
    • A venue
    • A safe place to fail
    • Educating the congregation
    • Creating a permission giving church environment
    • Discipleship
    • Boundaries/parameters
    • Creativity in helping people find and utilize their gifts

    As with any list of this type, I am sure it is incomplete. And you don’t have to do them all to have a successful creative ministry. What’s missing from this list? What should be added? How could a list like this help you moving forward.

    It started in 1986 (yes I am that old). I hadn’t been in a church for other than a wedding or a funeral in about 10 years and my life was a mess. Suddenly I found myself in a church again. I was there for one reason and one reason only, the same reason every guy who doesn’t care about church ends up in church, a girl invited me. When I walked in that door I was a mess. Drinking problem, seriously depressed, terrified to speak in public and feeling pretty hopeless. How did I go from that guy to a minister of the Gospel who has used my art and speaking to minister in 100 churches in 13 states in the last three years? Two things. First off someone cared enough to introduce me to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, and secondly because a pastor found my gift of art and showed me I could use it to serve the Lord in the church and in the world beyond.

    Those two things have become my passion in ministry and in life.

    I believe everyone is gifted and talented. I believe those gifts and talents are given by God on purpose, for a purpose and it’s in finding those gifts and putting them to work that we find the meaning of our lives. This is one of the main reasons creative ministry is important. If we cannot get beyond those few gifts (musical ability) that can only be done by a relative few, we relegate everyone else to being consumers. When people are nothing but consumers, we should not be surprised when they leave us for a better “show.” We have got to get creative to incorporate as many people and as many gifts and talents as we can into the total ministry of the church, in the church building itself and just as importantly in the world beyond. Dan Miller rightly and regularly reminds us that there are lots of ways to do ministry and most of them happen outside the walls. He is a million percent correct in this. Not only is this good for the people who are already believers, but creatively helping people to find their ministries, helps those who are not interested in church to come in contact with the Gospel through the church (remember the church is the people) in the marketplace.

    Secondly, creative ministry is important because of the sheer volume of messages and images people are confronted with each day. While we believe and know that the Gospel is the most important message there is and that it is empowered by the Holy Spirit, how does it stand out above all the noise? How do we take the unchanging Gospel to an ever changing world? I think we need to get creative.

    The building is not the church, it’s the box for the church. While worshipping in that box is great and hugely important, and I believe commanded (or at least highly recommended) in passages like Hebrews 10:25, most of the ministry of the church occurs “outside the box” in the other 176 hours of the week. We need to quite literally begin doing a better job of “thinking outside the box.” We need to get creative.

    That’s why creative ministry is important.

    So why should you come to the Poconos CREATE Retreat 2013?
    There are so many reasons:

    1. Find the connection between your gift and the God who gave it to you.
    2. Get ideas on how to use that gift (or gifts) to serve the Lord.
    3. Spend time creating in community (because lets face it, how often do you feel like you’re the only one).
    4. Learning through fun and challenging exercises.
    5. Live demonstrations.
    6. Practical application.
    7. Creative inspiration.
    8. The opportunity to create in a worship setting.
    9. Opportunities to connect, collaborate and network.
    10. Two fun-filled days to create in God’s creation.

    Finally we will finish out our time together with a time fo sharing where you can demonstrate what you’ve learned, share about your experiences and more. The retreat will be held in a nice Bible camp in the beautiful Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains. Three meals snacks and a night’s lodging and some art supplies (bring your favorites) are included in the $150 registration fee.

    I so look forward to meeting you in the Poconos.
    I need to have the count in pretty soon so please register today!