I remember the first time I was asked to create a graphic for a new sermon series at my church. I was giddy and excited to take a simple concept and turn it into a visual masterpiece. I worked tirelessly for weeks to get it just right. I asked my friends and family what they thought. I tweaked the design over and over until I knew I had it just right. It was the perfect color balance. The perfect font. The perfect way for me to launch my career as a creative. Sunday rolled around and I started to get nervous. The worship set was done and it was time for the big reveal. The pastor came on stage, the lights came on, and the screen lit up with the graphic I created.
What was my response? I’m so glad you asked.
My very first thought was, “Man, that really sucks.”
I’m confident that I am not the only one who has experienced that. As I’ve gone through the last 10 years designing hundreds of sermon graphics, websites, billboards, and flyers, my first reaction is usually to be hard on myself and my creativity.
Have you been there? As people who create, we can easily lose sight of what really matters. We can get so caught up in what people think of our creations that we quit taking creative risks or even stop trying altogether.
If you are in a place where you feel like the wind is gone from your creative sails, I want to give you some encouragement today.
Here are just 3 quick things to know about being a creative in the church environment…
1. Remember the why.
The most important thing to remember is why we are designing in the first place. Asking this question not only applies to designers, but also to pastors, worship leaders, and volunteers. Our churches need creative people who do incredible work. There is no excuse for us to do anything less than our very best when we create things that represent God. We hold the most powerful message in the history of humanity and we get to create ways to communicate that very message. The next time you are feeling down about your design, remember the incredible honor it is to serve God with your creative talents.
2. Give yourself some grace.
Giving yourself room to fail and make mistakes is an important part of becoming better at what you do. Forgive yourself when you create something that looks awful. Laugh at yourself, then get better. If you never allow yourself to make mistakes or quit when you create something bad, you will never grow into the creative you should. Every once in a while I enjoy hooking up the hard drive that has my first few years of designs. When I look back at them, I realize I definitely should have quit. But because I gave grace to myself I learned and became a better designer. You should do the same.
3. Get around other creatives.
One thing I’ve learned over the past few years in ministry is that creatives can easily become isolated in their church environment. If you are working or volunteering in a smaller church, the likelihood of having an entire creative department full of incredible talent is very low. We can often begin to feel like we are on an island and no one else is going through our creative struggles. You need to be in relationship with other creative people if you are going to succeed and last. Go outside the church if you need to and connect with other artists in your city. Start a Facebook group page for church designers to talk. Whatever you need to do to get around other creative minds, do it. Once you do, you will see that you aren’t the only one feeling down or alone, and you can learn and grow together.
What if we learned that the only approval that really matters is God’s? Could we see a creative revolution in our churches?
I believe the answer is a resounding yes. Imagine the artists, leaders, and designers who could rise up and create things we never dreamed possible.
There is a better way. Learn to push through your fears and failures. When you are feeling down about your design skills or creative ideas, remember the true reason we create. Once you do that, the wind will return and you’ll find your ship sailing strong.