Creating something that looks and sounds great is one thing, but creating something substantive that supports a vision is a completely different ball game – a ball game where we must show up.
The Church has come a long way in the last ten years. When I first started feeling a passion – stirred by a tension – for great creativity in the Church, it was because it was almost non-existent. The secretary had her CD full of clip art and that’s all that was needed. But today, the western Church has embraced the artist and allowed them to bring beauty to how we’re sharing the message. Now it’s time for the artist to embrace the pastor.
As artists, we must see ourselves as catapults. We aren’t the giant, shiny rock that is put into the catapult – that’s the message God has given to the pastor. It’s our job to understand that rock in such a way, that we can launch it as far as it can go to create as big of an impact as it can make. Here’s a few ways to do that.
Stop looking at your creativity as a checklist. You aren’t simply a production crew, there to crank out a certain number of screens, bulletins, etc. You’re there to help launch the message that will impact people’s lives. Creativity isn’t a checklist. It’s fuel.
Before you pick up a pencil and start sketching, you need to understand that message.
Get into the Word. I know we hear that all the time, but it’s because most of us aren’t. If we aren’t spending regular time digging into Scripture, it’s like working for Coke and drinking Pepsi. You have to know and love your product.
This also means you need to spend time with your pastor. Find out why this message is important and what he hopes to see as an outcome as people put the message into practice. But also spend time with your pastor as a person. Get to know his style, likes, dislikes, etc. This isn’t just so he’ll give his stamp of approval to your work. It’s to make sure your voices are in harmony. That may very well mean that they are different, but complimentary. Creativity doesn’t trump the message.
This time with your pastor is critical. You need to build a strong relationship. If you understand him and he understands you, it makes difficult conversations easier. When he asks you to copy the latest sitcom, you can use that relationship as a springboard. You can more easily explain why you can’t do this without being rude or just saying no. If he’s giving you unrealistic deadlines and you don’t have that relationship, you’ll likely sound like a complaining employee instead of the person who cares about him and what he’s called to do. Relationship is critical.
Once you know where you’re headed, it’s time to start building another new catapult. The tendency is to build it like you always have or how everyone else does. You know what I’m talking about: texture, overlay, circle, and Helvetica title. Save and Print.
I don’t think most do this out of laziness. I think many do this out of fear. But you must truly grasp the message and create something that will make sure that message sticks.
I love the scripture; “The Father gives me what to say and how to say it.” I’ve used it often to talk about the need for design within the church. But here, I want to point out that it’s not all up to you to create on your own.
Your Creator gave the gift of an artist to you. Let Him into your process. Let him push you to a new level. Push yourself and find the best way to launch that message. When you take the risk of stepping out and truly embrace creativity as a craft, you will find amazing things – things you may never have imagined were there. But you only find them by embracing the uncomfortable and relying on the fact that God truly calls you an artist.