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Creative director
Impactful, coordinated service planning begins with open communication between the lead pastor, music pastor and a detail-oriented third-party: a creative director.

Creative Direction in God’s Image, Part 1

In this first of three parts, the creative director, by any other name, has the most important responsibility for a church that wishes to be “missional,” that is, to disciple its current family and affect its community for Christ.

As technology and humanity are continually integrated into services of worship, it’s increasingly clear the Gospel will have its most effective, widest reach when a single voice is responsible for unifying the vision, practical and scriptural elements of worship presentation.

The tools of communication and human interactions have changed in this century, more and more beyond the capability, time or interest of our present leaders.

That voice is not the senior pastor, worship pastor or worship leader.

The voice is God’s.
 

Creative director

Technology complements a pastor's message and music participating.  Pastors, guests and music leaders need deadlines, so operators have time to input and practice.

The question before us is: who best harnesses the creative elements God provides? Though the pastor may receive the call, the worship leader provided the melody, theirs is not the most important voice in enacting the vision.

So, there’s a more important role in church vision than the pastor or worship leader, you say?

Yes.

The title varies from place to place, as do the specifics of the role.

Maybe it’s production manager, stage manager, or worship coordinator.

For our purposes we’ll say this: the creative director, by any other name, has the most important responsibility for a church that wishes to be “missional,” that is, to disciple its current family and affect its community for Christ.

True, it’s a bold statement.

These are bold times.

Bold steps are needed to counter a culture that’s resistant to the Gospel and less Biblically literate. Be clear, though. This should not be a threatening statement.

For as Christ did not assume equality with God was something to be grasped but worked in harmony with the Father and Holy Spirit, a creative director should not be considered superior to the pastor and music worship leader.

Indeed, these individuals should feel empowered and liberated by assigning worship management responsibilities to such an individual. Doing so provides more time for the pastor and lead musician to create and effectively bring people into a relationship with The Lord.

Setting the Bar

 “My pastor saw the value of making the weekend services something that people would invite friends to. It was his vision that made it possible,” said Nalinee Barrett, Creative Manager for Full Gospel Assembly Church of Singapore. “The pastor saw the need for someone who was looking at weekend services cohesively, and would be able to link the communications and media productions as well.”

Barrett has been full-time creative manager for seven years but neither did she nor the position begin there. She began as a production team volunteer.

As the church began growing, she was first offered a part-time position after her initial two years, and a full-time responsibility two years after that. Her FGA team is made up of 40 people, participating across nine ministry teams, which draw approximately 300 people over two weekend services. Since Barrett has been serving, the FGA congregation has grown by approximately 100 members.

Besides the pastor’s vision, a contributing factor to this growth was a field trip Barrett took to the U.S. several years ago to observe how large, mid-sized and smaller churches conducted their services of worship “from carpark, to welcome and goodbye, how they treat guests, how they do hospitality, followup, etc.”

Creative director

Establishing the pre-service environment must also be discussed and conveyed, whether high-tech or no tech, to create the appropriate atmosphere when the family convenes.

Among her takeaways, “I learned that reaching the community and the methods used to do that is really a Top down effort, she said. “Different churches have different callings in the kingdom, and it’s not wise to compare.”

LEARN MORE: Ministry structure at Full Gospel Assembly of Singapore

Comparisons aside, there are commonalities to which a creative manager, like Barrett, or the comparable role at your church, must adhere.

Two such ideas include:

  1. Taking into account interactions “from carpark” to “followup, etc.,” a growing church teaches, as stated by a pastor she visited, “everything is worship.”
  1. For a senior pastor to enable growth to occur, it’s necessary to relinquish responsibilities – dare we say “control” -- stay in communication, and foster trust. A “worship leader” must do the same.

Letting Go

On one hand, the transition seems simple. However, as we have too often seen in churches across the United States, tradition, ego and misplaced vision can undermine the most enthusiastic pastor wishing to present God’s unchanging promises to today’s transition culture.

Many traditional leadership duties must be reexamined and shared. The church must be more intentional about going out to “seek and save the lost,” and use more diverse communication methods to fulfill the Great Commission.

The tools of communication and human interactions have changed in this century, more and more beyond the capability, time or interest of our present leaders.

Although recent surveys uphold the time-honored tradition of the sermon as the key reason people go to church, and that music is a high priority, there is ample research that how those elements are presented, disseminated, and other arts are used, influence how people receive the message.

Long-sermons are ineffective in a TED-talk world; infographics alone don’t translate to a diverse culture that’s more reliant on visuals; a popular church song on radio may not have the theology rooted in Scripture that supports the message. While it’s possible for a pastor, or a pastor and a worship leader, to fulfill these tasks, personal experience and outside research indicate otherwise.

Take not my word, however. There are scriptural designs for this shared responsibility … this worship trinity, if you will. The very first words of scripture tell us.

Creative Scripture Support

“In the beginning God created…” Moses scribed in Genesis. If God created, He is the ultimate creative director. We, created in His image, should follow His lead and textbook for creative church structure, from responsibilities to detailed jobs.

Through Scripture, we see the template for a creative director’s job description, guidelines for volunteers, and harmony between those called to oversee ministries. Keeping these principles in mind are beneficial, regardless of your size, name or how you split responsibilities.

Whatever you call the person, your ministry needs an individual who:

  1. Creates and maintains order of ministry structures;
     
  2. Enables recruiting, developing and training personnel;
     
  3. Allows the pastor to concentrate on preaching; the worship leader to concentrate on music;
     
  4. Establishes an environment that enables worship in spirit and truth no matter where people are;
     
  5. Recognizes and provides for celebration of God’s provision;
     
  6. Facilitates sharing the Gospel of Christ throughout the exterior community.

Creative director

Recruiting personnel involves being specific about needs and using multiple methods of gathering information.  Both online and handwritten work...as long as there's intentional mention.

Each of these elements is part of what Nalinee Barrett and her pastor have achieved at Full Gospel Assembly. There are details and practical steps to be presented, from Barrett’s ministry and others. They come only as suggestions after taking the pulse of your environment, she noted. “The expression of worship in every community is beautiful, when it comes from the heart of the congregation.”

And the Scripture Says … !

You may be inspired to implement any of these ideas. But enacting any of these six elements, take pulse of your heart and community. Are you willing, or are you reluctant to share leadership?

Moses learned, and Paul reminded us, that unshared work and micromanaging is unhealthy, spiritually and physically.

Jethro guided his son-in-law Moses into recruiting others and teaching them the responsibilities he had used. Similarly, Paul interceded when church growth led to disputes and charges of favoritism between Greek and Hebrews Jews (the first Christ-followers; the first Christians), about serving needs of widows among them.

Moreover, as the churches grew and became more diverse, those from different backgrounds (can you say, “denominations”?) had radically different views about what should happen during corporate worship, Paul gave precise instructions about order, responsibility and shared gifts.

Are these things a senior pastor or musical leader has time, or desire to do?

Check Yourself

Here are some points of conversation to consider and discuss with your current team … even if you have a creative director… to consider as a team, before we look at specific methods a CD may use.

Exercise

Look over the six Biblically-inspired tasks for a creative director. Review each from your current responsibility as pastor, lead musician, or comparable role to creative director. Pick the one that should be your primary task.

  • Circle any others that you’re also doing.
     
  • Write the name of someone who is doing these tasks, or underline something you wish could be done.
     
  • Which of these items is your church doing well?
     
  • Which of these items would you like to do, but don’t have the skill, or the personnel?
     
  • Where is your family time in your schedule? Is it sacred?

Creative director

A creative director's most critical first task is overseeing how ministries connect and communicating responsibilities. Creating or updating a flow chart for leaders is a training asset.

Homework

  • Make a list from your datebook of other things you do taking you from that responsibility.
     
  • Track your activities over the next few days, to see what else you are doing.

As I Close...

We spent time outlining the ideas about shared responsibility and personal approaches to ministry because, like Moses, leaders today tend to over-extend, accidentally or purposely.

Egos interfere with God’s work.

If in doubt, scroll through a Facebook group which you follow and note how many posts are about stress, because of ministry coworkers or congregants. Re-examining your role, seeing the impact of a visionary pastor, examining the Scriptures will strengthen your personnel and your ministry as we’re reminded by
Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one…a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Creative image, isn’t it?

 

To read the second of three parts in this series, visit "Creating In the Name of the Lord," which posted to the site on Monday, March 11.

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