Article Art by Steve Stone

Creating Space

Posted by Phil Bowdle on August 01, 2013.

Author: Phil Bowdle

My wife always tells me that I walk too fast. Others have told me they can tell I’m “on a mission” when they see me going somewhere. I just like to say that I walk with a purpose. I know where I’m going next and I want to get there as fast as I can.

As artists, we aren’t much different. We love to move fast. We love creating something for our audience to experience. After it’s over? We’re ready to move on to the next big thing. The next big creation. The next big experience.

Why Do You Do What You Do?

As creatives, pastors, worship leaders, and communicators, there’s a reason behind why we do what we do.

We want to create an experience that leads to a response in our audience.

We create art to change something. We want to create an experience that leads to a response in our audience. It’s the purpose behind every sermon we preach, every song we lead, every service we plan, or every blog we write.

For me, it’s that desire to change something that brings purpose and meaning to my job. As a Communications Director at West Ridge Church, I lead the charge in everything our church audience experiences with video, web, social media, design, print, and the creative direction of our sermon series. However, it’s not solely the “art” in those things that drive me to create. I’m not there just to make things look pretty. I’m there to create meaningful experiences through communications that lead people to Jesus Christ.

Our Kryptonite As Artists

The kryptonite of artists is that we move so fast, we don’t leave space for ourselves or our audience to pause, think, and respond.

Our drive for creating meaningful experiences and moving quickly to the next big thing often cripples us from achieving the objective of why we do what we do.

We see this tendency at work around us all the time.

We’ll tell a joke but never pause for the punch line.

We’ll go to a conference with every moment packed full of inspiring speakers and information, but never pause and reflect on how this experience will change us.

We’ll tear through an amazing book and quickly move on to the next one without pausing and letting that content marinate and change us.

We’ll plan every minute of a worship service full of songs, videos, scripture, and teaching, but neglect finding those moments where our audience can have some breathing room to reflect and respond.

Our lives and our work can often feel like a runway at an airport – constantly launching things off the ground but never pausing once something lands.

Our lives and our work can often feel like a runway at an airport – constantly launching things off the ground but never pausing once something lands.

So how do we slow down and create experiences that leave room for people to respond?

Selah

I love how this concept is modeled for us in Scripture. We see it modeled in the creation story as God reflects on the work he has done.

“By the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done.” -Genesis 2:2-4 (The Message)

God not only teaches us about Sabbath, He also reveals a natural rhythm that God himself models in the creation story. Create, then pause and reflect.

My favorite example of this concept in scripture is the word “Selah” used 74 times in the Bible.

There’s some mystery to the full meaning and context of this word, but many scholars believe it to be an instruction on the reading of the text. That instruction? To “pause and think about that”.

I love that concept! I love the idea that it’s not just about the experience but it’s also about the response.

Without hitting pause, we lose the opportunity for ourselves and our audience to respond.

Without hitting pause, we lose the opportunity for ourselves and our audience to respond.

Challenge

If the purpose of why we create art is to change something, it means we have to change some things.

It means we have to pause.

We need to give ourselves permission to slow down and give space for things to happen before moving on to the next big thing. Quit adding to your art and start subtracting.

It’s our role as artists not only to create powerful experiences, but also to create room for people to respond.

The older I get, the more I realize that my wife is right. I do walk too fast. Sure, I may be walking on a mission. But I’m learning that the journey is just as fun as the destination. I’m learning it’s better to hit pause before I hit play again.

Selah.

About the Author

Phil Bowdle | T w
Phil Bowdle is the Creative Arts Director at West Ridge Church in Atlanta, GA. You can connect with Phil on Twitter and follow along with his blog at PhilBowdle.com for practical resources on church communications.

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