I love being part of the community of church creatives. I may be biased when I say this, but we creatives are of some of the most fun, talented, and dedicated people. My favorite attribute about our group is generosity.
Creatives in ministry are very generous. We have no qualms or restrictions about being openhanded with each other. We are constantly giving—sharing ideas, best practices, techniques, and resources with each other. That’s Kingdom principle at work!
Beyond sharing stuff with each other, by virtue of our job as artists, we are constantly giving of ourselves. Art is deeply personal. Each time we create – whether it’s generating an idea, writing copy, designing a logo, producing a video, program lights, etc. – we are putting a piece of ourselves out there. What we do is public. Exposing ourselves like that is akin to giving a piece of ourselves away. Therefore, doing art requires deep and consistent personal investment.
It is with this love, respect, and awe for the generosity involved in our craft that led me to this sad observation: Considering how much giving is demanded of us, I am shocked at how little most church creatives feed.
Most of us creatives in ministry do not intentionally and habitually feed our creative sides. We don’t regularly consume shows or attend concerts. We don’t intentionally research, expose, or immerse ourselves in experiences for inspiration or to widen our perspective.
I think the reason is partially because most of us are geeks more than we are artists by nature. Many of us find ourselves doing graphics, videos, stage, or lights because we are good with technology. We often prefer to spend time tinkering, fixing, or looking up equipment and reading about the latest versions of tech rather than immersing ourselves in art.
Geek or artist… I believe the line separating the two is disappearing. The artist has to master his or her tool and canvas, which involves technology. The geek’s work requires artful presentation to rise above the rest. We all have to be both geeks and artists.
Another reason we don’t feed ourselves is because we’re too busy. With everything we have to crank out on a weekly basis, we feel that we can’t afford to take time to smell the roses, read, and reflect.
Wouldn’t you agree that it is even more vital—with the hectic nature of our job—to intentionally carve out time on a regular basis to be refreshed creatively?
Three years ago, I set aside an hour each week on my calendar designated as “creative time”. To make this time effective, I created a document called “creative bucket”, containing creative resources I can sink my teeth into. Through the week, when I see a tweet, post, or email about a resource that may be a source for creative nourishment, it goes into the “bucket”. This way, I always have creative food to devour at feeding time. This also solved the dilemma of whether to allow something of interest to interrupt as it comes in or to set it aside for future consumption but never getting to it.
An hour may not seem like much. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to watch, read, and learn; and more importantly, how that time of refreshing overflowed and bled into my art.
Each year, my wife and I set aside a budget and plan for our entertainment. We allot money and strategically look for shows and creative experiences we can do together as a couple or as a family. This doesn’t only feed me creatively; it also serves as quality family time and as an opportunity for them to buy into my work and ministry.
In addition to attending conferences, visiting other churches, and connecting with other creatives, those are a couple of ways I’ve found helpful in maintaining the consistent flow of creative juices. I strongly encourage you to find methods and practices that work for you. The key is to do it and turn what works into habits.
As followers of Christ, we all desire to live the fullest possible life God intended for us. We all know that a healthy relationship with Him, grounded in a consistent and vibrant devotion life, is foundational for that to happen. I’ve yet to meet a Christ-follower who’s never struggled in this area of their life. Admittedly, it has always been a big one for me.
Having spent significant time observing, discussing with, and discipling church creatives, the painful truth is that most of us either do not have a daily devotion life or struggle with it.
How often has work or busyness become an excuse not to feed spiritually? Similar to tithing, the math doesn’t add up. But you know it will result in a blessing. Carve out the time. You’ll experience a breakthrough not just in your art, but also more importantly, in your life. It is guaranteed all throughout God’s Word.
I urge you to make this a priority. Open your heart to God and cry out to Him to help you in this area. He will help you. Find an accountability partner. Do whatever it takes to make seeking, hearing, and obeying God a normal part of your life.
You can’t give what you don’t have. Authentic emotional depth in your art will only happen as a result of an overflow of your personal ministry.
We have the most urgently compelling message to tell about God’s love and mercy for mankind through our art. Even more important than watching shows or researching the latest trends and searching for inspiration, it is critical that we have a fresh revelation from our Heavenly Father—the master, creator of the universe and source of all inspiration—everyday.
We are all familiar with the story about the two guys who were chopping wood. One was bigger and stronger than the other. The smaller one kept stopping to take breaks but chopped more wood because he rested and sharpened his axe.
Take strategic breaks to refresh your body and sharpen your mind, soul, and spirit. This will help you produce more powerful and effective art in a sustainable way.
Most of us already consider it a privilege to get to do what we do. And it can become a dream job when we prioritize time with the Lord and experiencing other art.