I work with a bunch of artists at a church in San Francisco. Once you walk these streets long enough, you?ll begin to understand how ministry done here is quite opposite of that done in suburbia. In this city of Fitbit wearing, wine drinking, Sunday brunching citizens, the language of Christianese is non-existent. The evangelical church is in the shadows of tech start-ups and individualistic freedom. And the church seems like the last place you would go to find artistic inspiration.
And yet, I walk these streets with the mindset of resetting the world of artistic Christianity in San Francisco. I realize, in order to do that, I can?t look at other churches to lead the church.
Why? I mean, there are churches leading the charge, right? If a church has skyrocketed from 100 people to 2,000 in a matter of months, surely they know what they?re doing.
Yet, I choose not to look at them. It won?t really work for resetting art in my context.
The reason is, they are in South Carolina.?
As leaders of art branded with name of Jesus, we cannot simply become those who rearrange the stained glass from another ministry and try to call it our own.[quote]We cannot simply become those who rearrange the stained glass from another ministry and try to call it our own.[/quote]
Unfortunately, many Christian artists have taken originality and turned it into artistic recycling. Much of church artistry has become seeing something on Instagram or at a conference, and merely adopting it for our own. But we can?t replicate other churches for the sake of replicating other churches.[quote]Many Christian artists have taken originality and turned it into artistic recycling.[/quote]
I often come across ministry leaders who are passionate about originality and authenticity. Yet they regularly merely rehash another church?s pursuit of originality.
In a day and age when creativity, authenticity, and originality are in highest demand, us leaders of artwork for God are starting to lose ourselves in the battle for creativity. We are placing our artistry on calendars, taking screenshots of another church?s Instagram, and not investing into our creative souls.?Authentic art is part of our everyday war. And artists are losing the battle, simply because we are arming ourselves with sheaths filled with leftover creativity.
Imagine if you were to completely destroy your creative process and took on the initiative to re-start who you are as a creative from scratch. Becoming a new born infant of creative thoughts and practices can be a daunting task, but rewarding if you follow through with it.?If you are wanting originality in your creativity, it makes sense to kill your current creative agenda and start from scratch. And with creative death, comes the birth of originality.
It?s like being born again into a flock of new thoughts and creative endeavors. Your mind becomes clear ? so clear, that thoughts you would have never thought of will start pouring into your mind and soul, and that overflow will create some new and amazing things. However, you first need to figure out how you?re casting the vision for the art in your church. In my mind, there are three different artistic viewpoints when it comes to church originality:
1. ?These cool new ideas are working at _____ Church, therefore, I?m doing it.? Artist, be honest with yourself. What you are really saying here is ?I want to do this because it looks cool.? Relevance and authenticity will always take precedence over the cool factor. You can always work to change the culture of your church in little steps (if that is what is actually needed), but you have to go back to why you are even standing in front of your congregation, leading them to the throne of Jesus. They are wanting to experience the love, passion, and grace of God in their lives. It?s going to be harder to lead them in that way when they don?t entirely understand your message, especially when you?re just trying to be cool.
2. ?These cool, new ideas might work, but would they work best for my church culture, and how?? Now we?re on the right path. With this mindset, you can etch away at an idea until you see the root core of its meaning. Once you find the artistic foundation of any idea, you can re-build the creative structure to make it your own. Instead of focusing on what we think people want, focus on what people are craving. The x-factor of any artistic design is that it came before we knew what we wanted. We were created for community. And your community is craving Jesus-centered communal worship services, whether they see that or not. Design your God inspired concept with communal art as the cornerstone of your dreams.
3.??What needs to be done in my culture that hasn?t been done before?? This is the idea that changes the art in one?s ministry. Reaching outside of your own talents and gifts, and begging the Creator to create in you a new work. Don?t be afraid to challenge the status quo that is the art of the Western Church. Re-think and restructure under the guidance of your leadership, and push forward the battle that is shepherding and leading people in gospel-centered art.[quote]Don?t be afraid to challenge the status quo that is the art of the Western Church.[/quote]
In many ways, our benediction should be one that dares to let artistic risk have allotted time in our souls. Let us become children whose dream is to make the church a beacon of vivid creative art to guide our dark world into a new area of Christ-driven creativity.