Why Church Sucks If You’re Creative

September 5, 2010

Does your church push away creative, right-brained people?

Just when the culture is shifting, churches are resisting that change.

I’ve seen this happen in several churches, including one that tries hard to appeal to the surrounding culture. The problem is, even in technical, business-oriented Silicon Valley, great value is placed on right-brained thinking. A cultural brain shift is taking place: away from controlled order… towards creative unpredictability…

And just when the culture is shifting, churches are resisting that change. They cling to the rational, fearing the wild creativity. Sadly, this excludes the wildest creative of all: the Holy Spirit. And so instead of seeking out churches, this weekend the creative types are at Burning Man instead.

Bo-ring!

Have you ever been bored in church?

Author and thinker Len Sweet is a student of Jesus and a student of culture. I’ve written about his books So Beautiful and Jesus Manifesto. In this video, Len explores the beauty of creatives, and is asked, “Why do you think the church is afraid of right-brained people?”

“The fact that we’re bastions of boredom, rather than bursting with creativity and release of the arts is such an embarrassment.”

Note: when I talk about boredom, the antidote is not entertainment. That has been the approach of seeker-oriented churches, to be entertaining. Years later, we’re realizing: by being entertaining, we’ve produced audiences instead of disciples. The church has played directly into the words of the unlikely prophet Kurt Cobain: “Here we are now, entertain us.”

So that’s not where I’m going. But please, deliver me from boredom. It’s a sign that who I am is not being allowed to experience and express the lordship of Jesus.

Rejection

rejection

Photo by KatieL366 (license)

Boredom is not the only problem creatives face with churches. I know churches that’ve invited artists to play a more prominent role, asking them to contribute or even lead. Then after the artist has contributed a work, or led out in a new direction, they are told, “We can’t have that here.”

Ouch.

The artist, having poured her heart and soul into the work, feels rejected. It’s not just a matter of “not measuring up” or “people don’t get it.” It’s essentially being told, “That thing doesn’t belong. Oh, it’s an expression of your core? Well, then maybe you don’t belong.

Unfortunately, artists and churches tend to pull in opposite directions:

  • Artists are interested in provoking a reaction.
  • Churches want to make people feel comfortable.
  • Artists desire unique expressions.
  • Churches want to keep everyone moving along together.
  • Artists value the unpredictable.
  • Churches want things predictable and planned.

Ultimately, the artists feel marginalized. So they leave. …Meanwhile, churches wonder where there apostles, prophets and evangelists are — not realizing they inadvertently chased them away! Everyone loses …but only the artists feel the loss directly. The churches carry on, unaware.

It can be done, I’ve seen it

It’s a shame. The problem isn’t just that the individual artist feels he has no spiritual home. It’s that the church is not reaching a growing segment of society. It’s a missional problem. Churches may experience some numerical growth, but not in the kind of person who is at Burning Man. Think these are just freaks on the fringe? Burning Man is becoming so popular, some artists are worried it’s becoming mainstream! This indicates how much it’s growing and entering the broader social consciousness.

But back in 2003, I experienced a gathering of creative Christ followers called The Soliton Sessions. The following picture is just one small portion of our collective art-worship spread across the floor:

Soliton art-worship

See the rest of my Soliton photos. That experience brought me through a crisis of faith. I came to the intersection of my changing faith and my changing culture, and found Jesus all over again.

In a right-brained culture, mission and art must intersect.

I remember weeping, full of relief and joy.

But this was seven years ago! I have yet to see that kind of creativity encouraged and released in any church nearby. And that’s a crying shame. Because it can be done — I’ve seen it.

If folks here in the US were aware of the alternative worship movement of the UK, I’m afraid they wrote it off as “weird.” Or they tacked it on as gimmicks or props, not something from the heart. Contextualization of the gospel requires many forms, expressing “Jesus is Lord” in the heart-language of the culture. In a right-brained culture, mission and art must intersect.

Leaders of faith communities, what can you do? Maybe these questions can be a starting point:

  • Who are our your artists? Do you see any apostolic, prophetic or evangelistic gifts in them?
  • Take stock of those who have left. Were some artists who felt marginalized?
  • Instead of trying to change what you already have… can you launch experimental missional communities where creativity is not a prop, but at the very core?

Your turn

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What are your reactions, experiences, questions and concerns? How do you respond to the video? Please share in the comments below!

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Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

50 responses to Why Church Sucks If You’re Creative

  1. Thought-provoking as always Jon…I’ve got to ponder this one for a while…

  2. While church services generally are predictable and boring here, our church has many outlets for artists — including an art gallery (I am one of the grunts), twice a week open studio (in our very own art studio,) a discipleship group aimed especially at artists, regular art workshops, alternative worship nights… it’s really pretty dang cool. I wish there was less predicability during services in general, but working on the current backdrop (I got to help paint the last one) is incorporated during corporate worship time – watching Lisa Marten fling paint with all her heart at a huge canvas during worship not too long ago was awesome. I really feel like artists are *welcome* where I am.
    http://vineartsboise.org/
    I guess because there is so much to do and so many other outlets to pursue that I don’t feel too badly about the fact that Sunday morning services are so predictable. To me, it’s just a smallish part of the complete package that is our church (while there are parts of the package that don’t appeal to me, there are many, many more that do.) Even so, I always get a real kick out of the many people I see looking at the gallery and reading the artist statements every Sunday — so even when arts aren’t “up on stage”, art is *there*. I can hardly go anywhere in this church without running into artistic expression.

    • Oh, hurrah Boise Vineyard! I love watching live art in corporate worship. It’s interesting that your services are so predictable, though I imagine it’s pretty much been that way all along (yours is a big church) and the artistic outlets came later. I think it’s a great example for others… thanks, Birgit!

      • I think part of it is a carry over – people think of church services as places to be taught (not places to *be*). If you look at many schools and college classes (I’d probably say most), they are usually geared in a linear, non-spontaneous, left brained way as well. *Still* are, culture shift or not. Huge groups of people *like* predictability and routines. Because that isn’t a good fit for all of us doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what some people crave. Just like the right brained people don’t feel at home now in most services, you will have some left-brained people that wouldn’t feel at home with something that is never ordered and never predictable. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. It would be great to find something that involves *both*.

        • “I think the answer is somewhere in the middle.” Nah. Left-brainers will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes!
          But yes, both. But it will require bending on the notion that church services are primarily a place for education — and that, through lectures. Lectures! Where the Spirit of God is moving, there will certainly be learning, among other things. I have no idea what Boise Vineyard is like (but it is a Vineyard), but in other churches I have not seen any anticipation of actually doing business with God, to use a Wimberism. As you say, a place to be.

  3. Jon, I have to say that I am so right brained that anything over ordered, scripted, or quantified scares me. I also have to say about the culture moving and the church still holding on during this shift…does it surprise you? It is like the church is always behind the curve. Why is that? Is it that the church is waiting for the shift to play out to make sure it is “safe”?

    • David, the church hasn’t always been risk-averse. Just look at how they tracked with Gutenberg. The Reformation, the Anabaptists, the viral small groups started by the Wesleys…
      I think there are several factors contributing to what we’re seeing now:

      1. The cultural shifts taking place now are large, and fast.
      2. Church is no longer at the center of our culture.
      3. Feeling the effects of #2, churches are playing defensively.

      But in my gut, I can’t understand why, as you say, the church is just waiting to see if the shift is “safe.” Perhaps being at the center of culture for so long dulled us to how the Lord sends us to make disciples. I would like to see seminaries change missiology from an elective to a requirement.

      • It is amazing how labeling a song “Christian” can automatically put it in a safe category for church people and help them sleep at night. Why is that? What is the fear? Art is art!!! I have been around and have been surprised where we can find truth about God. Learning how to find truth in art that isn’t labeled “Christian” is a good exercise in reaching a post-Christian world. Besides most Christian music doesn’t hit my ipod for anything more than church functions because it is poorly written and produced. I am right there with you!

  4. Jon, I especially appreciate your clarification that the antidote to boredom is not entertainment. “Years later, we’re realizing: by being entertaining, we’ve produced audiences instead of disciples.”—that is so true, and it’s ironic now when church leaders wonder why they can’t get more people to volunteer, to sign up, to DO something with their faith. When we get into a habit of feeding people without any expectation other than that they occasionally express appreciation for the meal, we develop dependents. Yes, people need to be fed, but they also need exercise. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

    • Melanie, thank you for calling out that point, since it’s kind of hidden in there. Did you see Wall-E, and how the humans were no longer able to walk? Audience-orientation pervades so much church life, even in house churches and small groups.
      We need to recover what a disciple is in the first place. (I also like the word “apprentice” because it is action-oriented.) Interesting application of that verse!

      • You’re right, I like the word “apprentice”! I like the word “disciple,” too, because it conveys the idea of “disciplines” and learning and applying, but I think those layers of meaning are fading out of the word. They may actually be more present in a word like “apprentice”! Thanks for that.

  5. For 8 years I led a liturgical dance team. In the team there was so much energy and praise produced. There was much support from the pastor and some people in the church and pushback from others. Once I stepped down from leadership (I had a baby) the young leadership could not withstand the pushback.

    • Cherry, dance is one I often overlook (which is silly, since I was in a dance company in college). A tricky thing with any art is that it’s not for everyone, since it’s a unique expression. And your story illustrates that it’s not just church leadership that resists change.
      I think there is pressure that anything done in a corporate setting must be good for everyone, when that simply isn’t feasible. Come on, it’s not even true of sermons! What if churches shifted to a more potpourri approach, with multiple expressions taking place simultaneously? …But I guess multiple expressions would probably feel “too chaotic” for the same people who offered the pushback in the first place.

  6. Jon, great observations here:
    “Unfortunately, artists and churches tend to pull in opposite directions:
    Artists are interested in provoking a reaction.
    Churches want to make people feel comfortable.
    Artists desire unique expressions.
    Churches want to keep everyone moving along together.
    Artists value the unpredictable.
    Churches want things predictable and planned.”
    I’m having to filter much of what I want to say right now. I’ve been in many of the leadership meetings where we discuss the artistic types and their work. I would suggest that many of the corporate churches who think they have made great strides to promote art are really more interested in what can pass as ‘Christian art’ or what can help benefit the advertising/promotional needs of the current teaching series.
    I think the church won’t really make significant progress in releasing creativity until they stop trying to make Christian artists and instead start supporting artists. (Note that I didn’t say support ‘Christian artists’ – and that was very intentional.)

    • Chad, I think you just uncovered something really, really important. I would extend your critique of advertising & promotion to include art that is used just to illustrate a teaching point: It communicates that the sermon is still the focal point, the truly valuable part. It’s unusual to see space given to grapple with the art itself, a space for the Holy Spirit to speak something that is off-script or even off-topic.

    • I can imagine those discussions. But for me – and from this point I am mainly talking to myself — what matters is that I am for what may be the first time in my life being validated in doing art. I am *creating* things – and for a long, long time I stepped away from that. If there is an agenda — it’s not relevant in what is happening in my life right now. What has come out of promoting the arts in our church (for whatever reason or agenda) is *good* in my life. And I know it’s been good in the lives of many others I know. In quite a few people (including me) where the intimidation and fear that kept us from creating are slowly being broken. I am encouraged to create.
      I am under no illusion that there is some art that would not end up in the gallery. On the other hand, I have been surprised at some of the things that *have* ended up there.
      It seems to me that corporate churches can’t win for losing sometimes. If they don’t encourage creativity, well, that’s bad. If they do, it’s because they are pushing an agenda, and that’s bad. If artists participation during services isn’t encouraged, well, they’re hostile to artists. If they *are* encouraged, it’s a gimmick.
      And often it is.
      And yet I see artists evolving — artists that are believers, but not necessarily what I would term “Christian artists.” I know you know some of them. And I see real art worship and artistic expression happening. And to me, that is good.

  7. Have been pondering a bit, and have now read the ponderings of others in this comment thread, and I love to see the passion around this. I’ve never considered myself an art person. I like some art, but mostly, I just don’t think about it. When we’ve had live art during services I’ve found myself incredibly distracted by it, but I know that others love it. I like that we try things, and I’m well aware that nothing is ever going to please every single person in the room, but I do think a church should be careful about not being distracting too. This was always my concern when we started the art at our old church too…even in the back and on the side, I was distracted. Maybe I’m more old school than I’d really like to admit. I’m not sure. I do appreciate that art speaks in an amazing way to a lot of people, and I’m all for that expression happening and people being moved in that way. It’s just not for me personally.
    I absolutely agree with the idea of entertainment being a cure for boredom. I get terribly frustrated when a service is just filled with “stuff”…be it music, art, videos or some cool new way to do communion. I just want to hear from God and be moved by the spirit. For me, I usually just need some deeply worshipful music for that. And usually, I get that when I’m driving in my car, not when I’m sitting in church. That’s what I miss most about Vineyard…the worship…so many others just don’t get it.
    Still pondering…

    • Um…that was supposed to say that I agree with the idea of entertainment NOT being a cure for boredom…geez…should have proofread!! 🙂

    • Carrie, I have a question since you used the word “distracting” twice: distracting from what?
      But I am so with you regarding the role of worship music in the Vineyard. It drives me a little nutty to experience what to me is a shallow copy. It can rock, it can groove, it can get everyone clapping… whatever. It can even get people excited about God. But where is the actual interaction with God? …I hope to reblog my “worship porn” post, but break it up into a series since it’s quite long.

      • It’s funny, because as a general rule, I’m someone who can have a lot going on around me and not be that bothered. I can watch the Giants game and reply to this post; I have music on all the time in my office unless I’m in a meeting or on a call, I have to have music on when I write and I always did my homework with either music or the TV on. But I think the reason I can handle all of that is because I’m controlling it. When I’m at work and there is noise in the hall my door is immediately closed. When I’m in a restaurant and other tables are obnoxiously loud, I get cranky. Sometimes even when the birds are chirping outside my window I find myself having to rewind whatever I’m watching on TV and watch it again. I can’t explain these annoyances, but I think it’s the same with the art stuff in church. And maybe it’s because it’s something I have absolutely zero skill in, so I’m fascinated by watching people paint or pull paper or whatever, but I find that I’m focused on them doing something not them expressing their love for Christ, and then I’m totally out of the worship mode. Does that make sense? To look at someone’s work when it’s finished? Totally cool. I love that people express their heart so uniquely. Heck, sometimes I’m distracted by the music too because I feel like people are trying too hard or trying to be too Joe Cool Christian. Sometimes, I’d just like an acoustic guitar and a solo voice. Sometimes, I’d just like the guitar.
        This is exactly what I feel about the worship at my church sometimes…you expressed it perfectly: “It drives me a little nutty to experience what to me is a shallow copy. It can rock, it can groove, it can get everyone clapping… whatever. It can even get people excited about God. But where is the actual interaction with God?”
        It’s so interesting because a lot of times I think slower songs are more worship until I throw on Third Day or Switchfoot or even some **gasp** secular artists and find myself ready to close my eyes and raise my hands while driving down the road! Just because it’s upbeat doesn’t mean it can’t move me, but usually, it’s not quite like that with some of the newer worship songs. I find there are a lot of words that if I read as poem would probably move me, but they don’t really work as a song. And I don’t need to sing them over and over and over and then over again.
        I love this conversation Jon!! And yes, you should definitely reblog that post…it was GOOD!!!

  8. It’s funny you should post this because I just recently had a disagreement with church leadership over this issue. i was asked to preach a sermon in a series that featured popular songs as the basis for the messages. i am frequently challenged by truths in so-called secular music, so this was an exciting prospect for me.
    the part that raised the leadership’s eyebrows, however, was when i chose to use a pop song (“ball and chain” by social distortion) as part of closing worship. it fit perfectly and (i believe) challenged people without being cheesy. the song i chose doesn’t end with everything wrapped neatly in a bow, so the leaders thought it needed a final verse about finding hope in jesus. i assume this means they wanted the last verse to outline the sinner’s prayer and all the singer’s problems magically disappeared. i maintain that people could easily draw the connection, especially since the very next song in worship began with the words “come to the waters, you who thirst and you’ll thirst no more.” thank god, they didn’t change anything!
    i found all of this ironic because the series was supposed to be about finding truth in secular music, but the pastors demonstrated that when it comes right down to it they don’t really believe God can work that way. that makes me very sad.

    • Frances, for some reason it seems pastors are very keen on clean answers. Actually, I see a connection to my earlier post about Jesus’s parables: Jesus often answered questions with strange answers, or (!) with further questions. I think the purpose was to draw people into a conversation, to see where it led.
      If a worship service is seen as an all-in-one package with satisfying conclusion, it makes sense that art is not more present. But if it’s seen as a starting point for further interaction (with each other, with the Holy Spirit, with the Scriptures)…

  9. Great post. When I finally connected with a spiritual director earlier this year, one of the things she recommended was The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I haven’t worked through the whole book, but the first day I sat down to write (one of the disciplines she recommends), it was all about how I experience spirituality as a creative expression, and how frustrated that has been in church. Even apart from what we recognize as “art” I think our life with God is a creative source within us, and one that doesn’t flourish when there are too many rules about what is or isn’t appropriate.
    It’s the same problem I have with a lot of what gets presented as art in church — it’s OK if everything ties up neatly with a bow (that is, an altar call). I like your points about artists wanting to provoke reaction, be unique and unpredictable. I find the language in the church used to describe and call us into the life of God sadly lacking in those characteristics.

    • Maria, I’ve never heard of The Artist’s Way. One review talked about how the exercises work to overcome your internal censor… Intriguing!
      See my comment above to Frances about the need to have clean answers instead of open questions. I hadn’t made the connection you do that certain art might be deemed okay as long as it is neatly tied up. This helps me understand why certain artistic expressions strike me as dull.

  10. Great conversation here! I especially resonated with Chads comment. Something I left on Twitter as a response to this had to do with applying the same idea to theology, which is a right-brained pursuit. I think the church is guilty of the same artificial freedom for their pastors and theologians as they are with their artists.
    The overall idea is feel free to be yourself an explore, as long as you end up inthe place we have already arrived, or you don’t stray too far from “orthodoxy”.
    It stifles creativity and prevents us from learning from each other in theology and art. Which might actually be the same now that I think about it.

    • Eric, you certainly take this in a direction I didn’t anticipate: theology. That’s precisely the area where most church leaders don’t want to see any creativity!
      I am reading Len Sweet’s latest book Nudge, and ran across this:
      The church has done itself a disservice, [novelist Dorothy L. Sayers] argued, by presenting Christianity not as a way of seeing all things but as one competing ideology among many. “Instead of leading us to see God in new and surprising places, it too often has led us to confine God inside our place.”
      I was also struck this morning by a quote tweeted by @Hollenbach: “When you have theological answers bigger than your experience you are setting yourself up for a crash.”

  11. One thought is that Joe Meyers has a great book called The Search to Belong. I think it’s a bit more of a Right-brained approach to church in which he talks about leaders creating space for growth to happen, rather than “programming” growth to happen. It’s a subtle difference, but I think it provides hope for us. In a sense, we can’t let everyone run wild because once you get a large group of people, you need some kind of structure or order. It doesn’t need to be much, but I think we all know that the extroverts can take control over the introverts, etc. However, if leaders can create that space and encourage everyone to use their gifts, we have some opportunities for creativity to thrive. I’m probably not doing Joe’s book justice, so you’ll just have to read it now… 😉

    • Ed, I remember hearing about that book and thinking I should get it. But I’d forgotten. So I just added it to my wish list — thanks!
      I like the idea about creating space. I seem to keep coming back to this in my comments above, but I place high value on gatherings as a time to actually interact with God, not just hear or sing about God. And the way I’ve experienced that before is when the organizers took the effort to create space for that to happen.
      As for extroverts controlling introverts, well, that’s another book I haven’t read yet. 🙂

  12. Thoughts,
    >The arts tell stories. Some of us need a little help with interpretation.
    >Empathy is engaged by good art (stories).
    >Empathy is a right brain activity.
    >Empathy is the doorway to compassion.
    Peace

    • David, can you explain a little what you mean by empathy? I’m trying to figure out how it’s a right-brain thing.
      And before anyone starts complaining, let me point out each of us has two halves. But we tend to lean one way or the other — and that’s one reason we need each other.
      Stories! Yes, that makes a lot of sense. “What is the kingdom of God like? Well, let me tell you a story…”

      • Yikes,
        There is much material available about empathy and the right brain. I have also experienced my own healing in this area. I cannot give a complete and thorough defense within this space so please forgive me if I do not fill in all the blanks.
        Merriam Webster definition of empathy is: Empathy- the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this.
        My explanation for saying that empathy is right-brain goes something like this: Empathy is closely tied to imagining and imagining is very very left brain.
        In my life, God often speaks very clearly to me through an empathetic relationship. Like friends sharing. My friend, in this case, is not imaginary. My responding (taking action) on this type of empathetic communication either constitutes faith or a form of delusion (depends on who is analyzing). This imagining is not left-brain linear-logical facts. It is a creative “sense” or “a feeling” and this is why left-brain people are hesitant if not terrified of this type of activity. In the bible, Jesus was moved with compassion just prior to performing miracles. He said the people were like “lost sheep.” Ever felt lost? Is that left-brain or right-brain? I once read that compassion is feeling another’s hurt in my heart and doing something to relieve the hurt. This “feeling another’s hurt” or “lostness” is empathy, doing something about it translates it to compassion. The depth of the imagining of how another feels is often based on the willingness of the spiritual heart to dig deep into brokeness. The pain we feel and our unwillingness to do something about it is often why we shutdown empathy within our heart.
        Empathy is not a “true/not true” equation. Empathy is analog/spectral. God is not a yes/no binary Being though many churches would make Him seem so. God in fact is profoundly analog/spectral, just look at creation. Empathy is as much the doorway into God’s heart as truth is.
        I suspect that the church views this analog God with great suspicion. Much of the church, when push comes to shove, believes in a black and white (good/evil) reality (God) with no shade in between. There is little room for subjective reality and this is a very great problem. This is a problem because we are all built differently from the core of each of our wills. We all have a unique signature. Spiritually speaking, our unique signature is not black and white, it is each uniquely multi-colored. It is the presence of light that reveals the color of my signature response.
        The Arts address this multi-colored world. The Arts help us communicate with a greater spectrum of life through empathy when words and logic are not nearly enough.
        I hope this helps.
        Much Peace
        David C.

  13. not all churches are like that though. I got a very modern church.
    interesting post!
    http://youcanfacetodaybecausehelives.blogspot.com

  14. Wow, what a great post- lots to think about here, much of which wants to be said but rarely is. I have found myself in the thick of the art/music community, and marginally involved in churches, largely because I don’t really find much intelligent empathy there with what I try and create. I’ve never experienced outright hostility, just dull, blank looks when people find that my music isn’t “Christian-y.” Which makes me want to scream, but not exactly walk out.
    I think it would be healthy for churches to value the creative work of their artists outside of the context of services. Not every gift and calling needs to be realized on Sunday morning. I say this because many people default to making Sunday morning a big deal and using everything else to prop it up, rather than simply valuing people and enjoying their gifts, art included, and letting “church” be incidental.(this might have to do with the entertainment as cure for boredom comment in your post).
    I think a robust missional Jesus movement will have people who are familiar with art and willing to engage any and all of it outside of church and without some sort of cheesy need to “bring it all back to God” or something. People are people- seeing them and knowing them as they are is the first step to loving them.
    Thanks for writing on this subject,
    Nate

    • Nate, you just helped me see something. Art is about life — all of it.
      The rub is that church is usually about one segment of life. Sometimes, it feels like church is about church.
      This is a continuation of the sacred/secular dualism that Mike Frost talks about. It constricts the gospel. And then we wonder why so few respond.

  15. Thank you for posting this!!!!
    I stumbled onto your site by considering the creation of a ‘twitter’ name. Obviously a whole different post..
    This post and your blog in general – sounds like a conversation I have on a regular basis with my Christian friends. SO I appreciate it!!
    Where I am coming from perspective wise:
    I didnt grow up in a Christian home and what brought me into the church was rock concerts (I didnt know were Christian at the time) that they held in the basement. Long-story-short I was adopted in to the body of Christ and loved in my ‘differentness’ that still seems to oddly stick out but be accepted.
    Whats crazy is that I (as an artist) have been called to be a missionary. I work with a Christian mission organization called Youth With A Mission, and my particular heart is to use the arts, and media in training, evangelism, and mercy ministries. http://www.ywamperth.org.au/
    I currently work in the Media area of my base, praying over multiple ways to visually capture the heart of what we do so that others all over the world see it as God speaking their language and calling them into missions. Through our website, print works, and other means.
    http://www.ywamperth.org.au/media/
    We have a ministry on base here that does art with the hurting and broken. Doing art with people at womans shelters and homeless drop in centers, halfway homes,.. etc http://www.ywamperth.org.au/artrefuge/
    We have an evangelistic ministry called Faces58 that uses art in creative ways to see districts and suburbs of the city of Perth change.
    http://www.ywamperth.org.au/f58/
    Again thanks.. and Ill be keeping up more frequently.
    Steph Bell
    http://www.drumsticksandpaintbrushes.blogspot.com
    PS. Good to see the post about Dio, God really used ‘rainbow in the dark’ to speak to me in a hard time in my life.

    • Steph,
      YWAM is one of the mission organizations that I think “gets it,” so I’m honored to have you come by. Thanks for sharing the links and stories to go with them. I especially like your personal story!
      Glad you came through “by accident.” Rock on!
      – Jon

  16. Just found your blog- score! I’m part of Third Option Men, a group of creatives and misfits that share some very similar views/cynicism of the modern day church. That’s not what we’re all about (church bashing isn’t the best way to BE the Church), but today’s post was to similar not to post… Enjoy! http://www.thirdoptionmen.org/blog/time-yell/

  17. Great post. Helps me to understand why I was moved to worship while listening to the “secular” excellence of Il Divo (and NOT their Amazing Grace performance, though it is good). Their level of creativity echoes the Father’s heart to me. We are all creative, because we are created in the image of God, the Creator of the universe.

    • In my book, creativity, wherever we find it, ultimately points to the Creator — even if the artist hasn’t dialed in to this yet.

  18. Right on church is SO presciptive and yawn the way they speak and the music is so boring and anyway they killed all art. What would Jesus think of the remnants-he’d bloody well walk in and smash it right up me thinks. What cant they get angry and why dont they demonstrate and stand up for people’s rights. Why are they so ruddy smug and pacifist. Dont believe if Jesus does exist then would be like it at all. No way, he’d get stuck in there-frankly we shouldnt be waiting for any second coming, we should get right on out there and fight for whats good, kind to the earth and others. Um there is a passage in the bible isnt there about prescriptive services and in any case just think of the people Jesus befriended, says it all. No wonder any artist does not frequent a church, the very word makes me sick. They are crass, out of touch and frankly need to get on out there and join the rest of us actually wanting to change things right now for the better. In the words of Bob Marley-Get up stand up, fight for yer rights-before some Capitalist takes them all away. Noop artists proper got no time for the church thing. Dont need charity when we have real equality but nobody just going to give us that. We have to fight for it.

    • We need to shift away from thinking “church service, church service” all the time. If we can be more about being (and discovering) the kingdom of God in our world, and engage people wherever we go, the entire focus will change. And hopefully, that will also change how our gatherings are structured, and who feels welcome.

  19. I remember the 80’s and how everything was a satanic plot. People who listened to or played rock music, played roleplaying games or had artistic talent either did not admit to it or got listed as sinners in churches and were marginalized by leadership or run of altogether. It has taken me years to find a church that lets people use their gifts and talents to glorify God.

    • I’m glad to hear things have taken a turn for the better, Forest (as they have for me).

      How did you know? I loved rock and played Dungeons & Dragons in the 70s and 80s. 😀 I remember casually sharing about D&D with a church friend in the 90’s, only to be warned that I needed to get rid of it. And I did, not because I thought it was evil but because I thought it might be a stumbling block. But it irked me. (A decade later, I had the chance to play again, which was fun. But it was with my non-Christian friends.)

  20. Actually church sucks whether you’re right or left brained!

    • …Unless it doesn’t. Like I said, I’ve seen it work. And I can’t quite believe it when I say that my current church is working out great for me.

      What about you, Scott? What are you experiencing (or not experiencing that you wish you did)?