This special July issue of Sunday| Mag explores the creative process of SALT Nashville, a creative arts conference. I (Jonathan Malm) know firsthand that putting together a conference is a lot like putting together an Easter service. The goal of this issue is to take a look at a conference and see what things we can learn for our own creative church endeavors. Enjoy!
Maker movement. Some of you might have heard this term before, and some of you may have no clue what I’m talking about. So, let’s explore what it is and why it matters in the church.
What is it?
Some searches around the web point to different reasons where maker culture has come from and why it has come about, but the thought has been being pushed around that in our society, we are no longer makers and creators. Decades since the industrial revolution, we’ve been born into a society of consumers that are only aware of how to purchase and consume manufactured items.
Our grandparents and great grandparents came from a generation of craftsmen—those who built, created, sculpted, and made things themselves.
While we aren’t necessarily returning to our roots as farmers, ironworkers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and the like, there’s a new wave of those who are finding joy and meaning in making things with their hands.
It’s a much more prevalent concept than you might think.
Restaurants are now advertising “hand crafted” or “made to order” items. Handwritten fonts on chalkboards are back in style. Don’t forget “small batch” and “farm-raised” too. Hipster-coffee establishments are crafting one of a kind drinks to order. You get the point.
In the technology world alone, the maker concept has spawned the universe of low cost electronics and the new frontier of 3D printing. With a site like Thingiverse you can share, find, and download files of everything from coasters to GoPro replacement parts to this new post on making your own projector leveling system.
Don’t believe me? Even President Obama has recognized the maker movement.
Okay, so why does it matter to the church?
Thanks to the internet, there are entire sites, such as Instructables and magazines such as Makezine, that offer step-by-step instructions and tutorials on how to do pretty much anything from cooking meals, to building furniture, to your own home-brewed video game systems.
If you find yourself having a problem or needing a solution for something, the odds are that someone else has had that same thought and shared their knowledge out there on the web.
We now live in a time where we can find, figure out, and understand almost anything.
There is a new pride in building and creating.
When you put in the time and do your homework, there’s esteem to be found in the gratification of knowing, I made that. But think about a team dynamic. When you group people together to solve problems, figure things out, and build something awesome, people take ownership of it.
People want to share in the experience and smile at the finished product, knowing that they too were able to make it all come together. There’s a great feeling of gratification knowing that you were a “founding father” of it all.
Consider when you build a set, for instance, how those around you get to celebrate in the final product of a large scale stage design. Sure it takes long hours, but it’s a time to unite and bond and teach new skillsets to more novice individuals.
There’s creativity to be found in making things for ourselves.
When we purchase off-the-shelf goods, we find ourselves having to choose between pre-made choices. When we build and do for ourselves, it opens up the doors to new and crazy ideas.
Particularly in the area of set design, you can just take a look at the great churchstagedesignideas.com and see the culmination of a DIY-makers from around the world uniting.
Something you would never have thought about could be used to build a set—like air conditioning filters or florescent lighting diffusers—is all out there and being shared by a community that’s getting creative and learning to make things on our own.
Every time we create, we open our mind to new possibilities of things that weren’t possible before. We can use these to build on top of each other and come up with ideas never seen before.
It’s an exciting time to see the DIY community coming together. With the internet at our fingertips, who knows where we’ll go from here!