The role of the Creative Director is as easy to define as nailing Jell-O to a wall, and for many of us, it's actually easier to nail Jell-O to a wall than it is to articulate what we actually do on a day-to-day basis. On top of that, the role may shift from church to church, depending on the person or the church culture.
One of the hardest parts of creativity in ministry is that a lot of team and ministry leaders all have their own ideas of what's best for their ministry.
Through it all, however, there's a few common themes that the Creative Director are responsible for.
The Creative Director as Planner
As much as we may think that creativity happens in spontaneous moments in the shower, it actually takes a lot of work and effort to put systems into place to be creative. It's the Creative Director's responsibility to administrate the creative planning systems that the church needs to be able to regularly produce creative content. They often implement the creative meetings, the creative "spaces," and the creative processes by which ideas flow from concept to execution. For this reason, it's important for the Creative Director to be able to jump from their left to the right brain effectively, and to be able to articulate the creative process to ministry leaders and get buy-in from volunteers.
While there's often regular creative meetings that should happen on the calendar (in creative spaces!), many churches have begun hosting a "creative night" - a regular meeting for anyone in the church to come, find community with other creatives, and practice their art form. There's no telling how God can use meetings like this to find the next great idea for the Church!
The Creative Director as Team Leader
Our creativity is only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It's one thing to have a brilliant idea, it's another thing to inspire someone else to have a brilliant idea and to give them a platform to use their creativity.
Who knows? You may just find someone that's a constant fountain of creative and innovative ideas in your pews. Beyond that, it's the Creative Director's role to manage and inspire those who serve on the creative teams. Everyone from graphic designers, to video editors, to environment-makers - all these people are creatives in and of themselves, and it's the Creative Director's role to ensure that everyone is reaching their fullest creative potential.
The Creative Director as Storyteller
As believers, we have the greatest story to tell. Further, Jesus himself told lots of stories, and his sermons were full of images - birds, wheat, beggars on the side of the road, lost coins the list goes on. As Creative Directors, it's our role to take the message of the gospel and clearly communicate it - without changing it - to the world around us in a way that is compelling.
The Creative Director captures the imagination of people, just as Jesus did. How are you taking the stories of what God is doing in your church and sharing them? If you don't have a system for storytelling, you're missing out on one of the most engaging ways to share the gospel with others.
One of the most compelling ways that churches can tell their stories and the stories of those in their church body, is through video and through streaming. Now more than ever, our stories can be heard literally around the world as soon as we hit "submit." It may be a brief video testimony telling of life change that happened through your church. It may be as simple as setting up a livestream platform, in order to broadcast your church's message and story to those who are seeking. These technologies provide an unprecedented amount of creative options for telling the good news of the gospel, to those who have never heard it.
The Creative Director as Visionary
Creative Directors in our churches shouldn't feel limited by what they've always done or even by what they see other churches do on Instagram.
To truly stretch the boundaries of creativity, we need to practice having peripheral vision - while it's OK to have specialties, it's when you step outside the boundaries of what you're comfortable with, that you come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things.
As Creative Directors, we should always have a vision for what could be, and what could come next. Our job shouldn't be to just copy what another church is doing and apply that to our church. Rather, it should be to find the unique ways that God has gifted our church and our church body, and to creatively utilize those gifts for maximum reach in our community. Beyond that, we must be able to communicate these things to our team members, leadership, and key stakeholders.
The Creative Director as Brand Representative
The word "brand" gets a bad rap in the church world sometimes, and maybe rightfully so. But at the end of the day, if you aren't constantly improving and shaping the brand of your church, your message will get lost.
Our culture's messaging is almost completely visual, and poor visuals will reflect poorly on your church. If your website hasn't been updated in a year, you'll lose people before they even walk in the door. If you have three different designs, all varying in quality, your message will appear jumbled and confusing.
One of the hardest parts of creativity in ministry is that a lot of team and ministry leaders all have their own ideas of what's best for their ministry. While many churches may have a communications team that handles communication requests, oftentimes the Creative Director must step in and ensure that what is being communicated remains consistent and in line with the rest of the church's message, both internally and externally.
The Creative Director as Producer
This is likely where most church Creative Directors live in the day-to-day. While they may not be the ones sitting at the computer with Adobe Photoshop, they are typically the last ones to give approval on projects, to sit in worship planning meetings, and to dream up ideas for special events. It takes discipline to be able to regularly come up with new ideas. Many people often curate their ideas in an Evernote or a Pinterest board to be pulled up at a moment's notice.
But when the rubber meets the road, it's often the Creative Director's role to ensure that projects and events are produced, and at the highest level.
There's no set of rules or a copied-and-pasted job description that applies to Creative Directors. Some come from a worship background, others from a more technical one. No matter where they come from, though, the role of the Creative Director is ultimately about people.
We should be investing into people, encouraging them, and always pointing them back to the source of our creativity. If we do that, we'll have churches that are more creative and a better representation of the Gospel.