I just got off the road, traveling around the country with the SALT Tour with a few amazing teachers and leaders. One of those teachers was a good friend, Stephen Brewster. His title is the Executive Director of Creative at Freedom House in Charlotte, N.C. He's always been a leader in the creative arts in the church, but this is the first time that his title represents his role on the executive leadership team.
You work in the church, and as more churches appoint a creative leader to the executive team, more creative leaders become elders in your community.
Stephen isn't the only creative director on the leadership team of a church. Countless churches across the nation are asking creative-minded leaders to serve in the most senior levels of the organization.
As creative pastors take higher priority in the church, it's important to recognize a few things that make a great creative pastor. Therefore, here are four obsessions for a purposeful creative pastor.
1. Ensure Vision is Received.
The first role of a creative pastor in the church is to cast creative vision. In doing so, you'll help shape the look and feel of your environments, establish a brand and help others know the creative style of your church community. But casting great creative vision is only part of your responsibility. You must ensure that creative vision is received and applied, not just heard.
One of the things any creative pastor must be obsessed with, is that everyone knows the creative vision God has given you and your team by taking it one step further: doing something within that vision.
If your pastor shared a spiritual vision, but every other ministry lead chose to do something entirely different, you'd never get organizational synergy. The same is true with creativity. You can't get creative synergy by merely sharing a vision, but ensuring that it's received and applied throughout the organization. You may never feel completely accomplished in this area, which is why it needs to be your continual obsession as creative pastor.
2. Empower Consistent Execution.
Once you begin to see that people are receiving this vision and it begins to direct the activity of creating, you move into your next obsession: empowering consistency. Your style and brand is a key component of your organizational DNA. Though your approach to ministry and theological beliefs ultimately shape who you are in the community you serve, the style (or look and feel of your environments) provide the distinguishable factor with regards to the theology you teach.
Glenn Packiam says "the way you worship will shape the way you believe…" because he knows that the environment you worship within, will accent or highlight the characteristics you worship of our God. As important as it is to teach a consistent theology for your lead teaching pastor, it's just as important as the creative pastor to obsess over the creative execution of every atmosphere. This way, the environments you create as a team are consistent with the never-changing truth you present to a people who desperately need the gospel.
My pastors (Alex and Henry Seeley) often say that you "belong before you believe." This was a model that Jesus taught and lived out in His time on earth as well. As creative pastors, your consistent use of creativity will help set the table in a way that your community can come to trust, so they can know that this is a place they can belong, so one day they may come to belief as well.
3. Encouragingly Challenge Status Quo.
For most lead creatives in an organization, you're often brought into a meeting to challenge the status quo. To put it another way, you're regularly asked to think outside the box. However, challenging anything can come across as an attack to the vision of a project or the lead person behind the new initiative. A purposeful creative pastor must challenge the status quo in the most positive and encouraging way. This means challenging the process over challenging the person.
You can start this by seeing the vision from the perspective of other people. In doing so, you'll begin to increase your empathy toward the project and your creative process will encourage the overarching vision, rather than just be as different and unique as possible. Your view of what something should look like will begin to sound more like what something could look like.
4. Equip Creative Community.
There's a reason I chose to use the phrase "creative pastor" rather than just "creative director." You work in the church, and as more churches appoint a creative leader to the executive team, more creative leaders become elders in your community. This means you're also called to the same principles of shepherding your people that 1 Peter 5 teaches. A purposeful creative pastor must obsess over equipping and shepherding the creative community to become a pastor to their people.
Often creative-minded individuals don't find revelation in powerful, polished and preachy-like messages. They find revelation in the context of the community around them asking deep questions in safe environments. Your people need you. They need you to help them realize that their "weird" creative giftedness is actually a unique calling from God.
In shepherding your people and equipping them spiritually, you'll turn the natural process of creative critique into a process of collaboration, over competition. You'll be shepherding this community to see the more they tap into their God-given gifts, they more they become the person God intended for their life. And better yet, they become more like God Himself.
Being a creative pastor is a massive responsibility! Because creativity is a vehicle that the Holy Spirit is using in your community to heal wounds, flavor worship environments and preserve the Gospel message by telling a timeless story in a timely manner (Here's a video of me sharing more on this thought).
I hope these four tips become obsessions in your regular process of leading creative members in the church. And I hope that you begin to see a creative community form around you, as you help them become more of who God made them to be.