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Author: Cole NeSmith

Why Your Unique Creative Expression Matters

There’s a popular narrative among leadership circles that talks about “replacing yourself”. The concept is good; we should raise people up to lead when we’re ready to move onto the next thing. But it’s more nuanced, and understanding those nuances addresses a human-history-long miss. That nuance: No one can do what you’re created to do the way you’re uniquely gifted to do it. No one can do what you’re created to do the way you’re uniquely gifted to do it. We can trace this concept of replication to the very fiber of human society. The concept of “the good...

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9 Types of Creative Experiences Your Church Can Implement

I took my first creative roll at a church in my early twenties. From what I had seen around me growing up, I thought I knew what that job entailed: overseeing the music, managing the visuals, and creating a video from time to time. Have you ever had one of those experiences where you think you know what you’re getting into, but things turn out to be much different? That is exactly what happened to me. Within two months, I was saying to myself, “There must be something more…some way to engage people that we’re not really thinking about.”...

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The Most Creative Thing I’ve Ever Seen: Cole NeSmith

Editor’s note: The discerning reader will notice Jenny Potter’s “most creative thing” is also Sleep No More. Check out her take on the what made it the most creative thing she’s seen. The most creative thing I’ve ever seen? Three words: Sleep No More. (And let me begin with this disclaimer. Sleep No More contains adult themes and situations including nudity. So this isn’t necessarily an endorsement. It is, however, the honest answer to the question.) My friends had just returned from NYC, “You have to go to this thing we went to,” they said to me, and from their short description I was...

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Finding Your Church’s Abundance

Giving can be such a sticky thing for people sometimes. And for those who have yet to take the dive into participating in giving financially in a church, we may often hear the reasoning, “I just don’t have enough.” It’s easy for us to abstain from things under the guise of “I don’t have enough.” But one of the things we challenge our church, City Beautiful Church in Orlando, with is this: Give from what you have, not from what you don’t have. It’s the classic story of the widow’s mite—that elderly woman who gave her last bit of...

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Rediscovering Creativity

Riding a New York subway recently, I noticed myself doing something I do so often: trying to look like I have it all together. The MTA is extensive. It’s a labyrinth of tunnels, trains, and busses, and I would imagine that there are very few people who know it well enough to never have to look at one of those giant maps between the tracks. But for me, I’ve always felt insecure looking like I don’t know where I’m going. I at least want people to think I know what I’m doing even when I don’t. This very insecurity...

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The Suspension of Disbelief

You and I aren’t called to be people who suspend our disbelief. We’re created to be people to live lives that are beyond belief. We’re called to be incarnational people who are manifesting the realities of heaven everywhere we go and in everything we do. I remember seeing the trailer for the first Chronicles of Narnia movie several years ago. They were doing some pretty incredible things with CG that hadn’t been done before. But as I watched the trailer, I still thought to myself, “Those creatures look rather cartoonish.” The technology was far from believable up against live...

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When Art Reaches a Community

I was at an audition recently, and they threw me a curve ball. I didn’t get a script to peruse and then do a reading. Instead, I showed up at the audition and they asked me to do a real-life monologue on the question, “What does division mean to you?” I thought for a few minutes. “When I think about division, I think about my life. I find myself at the crossroads of being a Christian and being an artist. For the artists, I’m often too Christian. And for the Christians, I’m often not Christian enough.” It can certainly...

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What the Church Can Learn from the Circus

I remember, when I was little, going with my mother and brothers into downtown Orlando late one night. It was January. And despite what you might think about Orlando weather, it was cold. We were bundled up, but the cold permeated our layers, and we shivered. We were there, by the train tracks, waiting for the circus train. We waited with great anticipation. But because of some boring, technical issue, the circus arrived too late, and we had to go home to bed. Since then, I have seen the circus arrive to town. The elephants and horses are paraded...

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The Difference Between Mediocre and Great Leaders

I’m not writing this article because I’m a great leader. In fact, the last two years of my leadership journey have been the most difficult two years thus far. The church I lead, City Beautiful Church, stepped out from the comfort of our mother church about two years ago. What I offer here are a few things I’ve picked up on the long road from being a mediocre leader to becoming a great leader. Sometimes that road still feels like it’s going to be a long one, but I’m not sure great leaders are people who ever arrive. They...

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Rebel with a Cause

I was probably eight or nine years old the last season I played baseball. I mostly played the outfield. More accurately, I mostly played in the outfield. Meaning, I’d stand in the outfield and dig holes in the sandy soil between the weeds or daydream about being somewhere else doing something else. One hot, Florida Saturday afternoon, there came a moment when I knew I was done with baseball. A kid hit a pop fly toward my domain in right field. I took off running in the direction of the ball. When I set out running, I completely planned...

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Trinity Creativity

As God breathed his breath into humanity, he imparted in us a soul. The Hebrew word is nephesh meaning “soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion”. It’s distinct from the other parts of what makes us human. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian teacher and author from the first half of the twentieth century, noted the soul as one of three parts of our humanity. 1. Body – our flesh, the physical part of us 2. Soul – the mind, will, and emotions 3. Spirit – the eternal part of who we are that communes...

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Reaching the Inner Child

My neighbor, Anna, lived across the street and down a little ways on the lake in our neighborhood. Between go-kart races around our suburban streets, all the neighborhood kids would spend a lot of time at Anna’s house – catching fish, playing on her jungle gym, building forts and booby traps in the vacant lot next to her house, and playing Sea World. Yep. Playing Sea World. We would gather different sized buckets – corresponding to the different sized killer whales that lived in her lake – and fill them with water. “Okay, I’m going to call the small...

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