Innovative Ministry
Why The Church Needs Artists More than Managers Right Now
It's time to be daring. To put art, creativity, passion and beauty front-and-center in the church again.

I wish there were more artists in the church.

No, not painters and sculptors. Actually, yes, those too.

Mostly I wish there were more church leaders who saw the art in their ministry.

Church leaders who put the same kind of passion and creativity into their calling that artists put into their craft.

A Prophetic Imagination

Instead of learning from artists, most of our church leadership teaching in the last forty years has taken its cue from managers, CEOs and salespeople.

Not that we can't learn a lot from them. I know I have. Good management is certainly a big part of biblical leadership and stewardship.

We've been managing ourselves to death – or at least irrelevance – in much of the western church world.

But we've been managing ourselves to death – or at least irrelevance – in much of the western church world.

We need artists to bring in some vital elements that the church hasn’t had enough of for a long time.

Passion.

Beauty.

Joy.

Anger.

Even a bit of holy fear.

The church needs to be filled and led by people with a prophetic imagination.

More Passion, Less Status Quo

Managers maintain the status quo by taking what we're already doing and helping us do it a little better. Artists (along with prophets, entrepreneurs and other innovators) give us something new. Or something renewed and re-imagined.

Artists honor the past without being bound by it. They propel us into the future by helping us see it. Even if we're not ready for it yet.

Artists don’t debate what style of music (or teaching, preaching and lighting) is best. They give us new ways of doing it.

Yes, the Bible says there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9). But some of us have been so bound by that verse we’ve forgotten that being made in the image of the creator means being creative.

More Artists In the Mix

Salespeople figure out what we want so they can sell us more of it.

Artists don’t give us what we want. They show us something we didn’t even know we needed.

We don’t need to get rid of the managers, of course. Administration is a spiritual gift, after all (1 Cor 12:28).

We just need to add more artists into the mix.

More risk-takers.

More visionaries.

More dreamers.

Fewer people who appease us. More people who challenge us.

Bigger than Business-As-Usual

We need church leaders who do more than tap into the latest craze.

We need passionate visionaries who will cry over their bibles until they hear what Jesus wants to tell them.

We need musicians who will craft new songs, not based on a cool musical hook, but on endless hours in prayer and the Word until they emerge with lyrics set to a melody that magnifies Jesus and melts our hearts.

We need writers who will start with a blank page or screen, then write draft after draft from the core of their God-breathed being until something emerges that is bigger than themselves.

We need painters, graphic designers, architects, dancers, sculptors, filmmakers and poets who will seize the spark of the creator within them to help us see the greatness and glory of God in ways we’ve never imagined before.

We need teachers, plumbers, farmers and accountants who see the art and beauty in their work as they do it unto the Lord.

We also need pastors who will be open to all the artists – including the artist inside themselves. The church needs brave men and women of God who will lead the church beyond business-as-usual.

We need to be daring. To try things that frighten us much as they excite us.

We need to be able to make massive mistakes, then say “that’s okay, we’ll do it better next time,” instead of being accused of heresy simply for trying and failing.

We don’t need to impose ministry into art projects. We need to find the art in ministry.

We don’t need to impose ministry into art projects. That always looks and feels as phony as it is. We need to find the art in ministry. In vocation. In everyday life.

Like Bezalel and Oholiab, who were anointed to “engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship” as they built the tabernacle (Ex 35:33), we need to put art, creativity, passion and beauty front-and-center in the church again.

Who Jesus Calls, He Inspires

The art of today won't look like the art of yesterday.

Jesus has never done the same thing twice.

The church has. Over and over. But Jesus doesn’t.

Jesus doesn’t call committees.

He calls artists and visionaries.

Holiness prophets and boundary-pushers.

Weeping hermits and life-of-the-party encouragers.

And, I'm hoping, maybe even a blogger or two.

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