You, the local youth worker, are an artist. That is my premise as I break down Jeff Goins’ new book Real Artists Don’t Starve and share the principles as to why this is true about you.
In the past, we’ve romanticized the struggling youth worker: no budget, crap car, and low pay. Many people bought into this myth as the way things should be, including me. Not any more.
As I had towards the mid-century mark after 27 years of full time youth work; I am sold on a new reality: I am a youth worker, but I’m also (and always have been) an artist. I create messages, videos, and programs and if you don’t think those are artistic endeavors, you’ve never tried working with teenagers.
This is the fifth post in a series of twelve and today I’d like to talk about going where the creativity is flourishing versus trying to make creativity happen.
I used to think I could work anywhere, any church and flourish. This is a bold face lie I told myself. Yes, I could work anywhere, but some of the churches I worked at were not only not bastions of creativity they were creativity killers.
Show me a church that rejects creativity (or at least adaptation) in how does ministry, and I will show you a dead or dying church.
The Starving Artist thinks she can do her work anywhere, but the Thriving Artist understands that where we live and do our work affects the work itself. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve
If you’re a creative young man or woman looking for your first (or another) church to work at; let me offer a few suggestion on the type of church you may want to keep an eye out for because where you serve matters.
If you’re a church looking to attract young creatives to your cause, pay attention, this is the kind of church I’m suggesting they look for.
The church that documents their journey
I just came back from a mission trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, working with CEAD church. They had it going on in the tech area. They equipped us with 20 interns (most under 25), most of whom had super quality cameras to record our journey, our journey with them, and as a way to show the their community how their church cared about meeting their needs.
They totally got it. They knew how to document the journey as well as promote the vision of the church. They used Facebook Live in their church to record services and how to effectively use narrative video in their announcements.
It doesn’t hurt that God is doing in their church what God does when you take the breaks off of Him. Many churches don’t embrace technology or social media because, to be honest, there’s not much to document.
In addition, and most importantly, if a church is not meeting needs in their community, technology is the least of their problems.
Seth Godin talks about the foolishness of a business who tries to use technology or slick marketing to fix their lousy product, when, in reality, no amount of either can do anything to fix a lousy product. No amount of tech or social can fix a lousy vision.
Look for a church the is documenting what God is doing, not trying to make it look like God is doing something.
The church that’s changing to meet needs, not keeping up with trends
Every church should know who they are, what their mission is, and who they are trying to reach. The churches who do not embrace this are trying to keep up rather than forge ahead. These churches have a “me too” attitude when it comes to adopting program, etc. rather than, lets do what’s right by the community we are planted in.
The creative church should be asking, “Is this important?” and if is important, “how do we creatively meet this need using the the right people and the right right amount of money, and the right amount of compassion an wisdom.” Anything less than this, is lip service.
The church that not only embraces artist, but creates them.
If you want to be in or work at a creative church, look at the kind of people the church is producing. Is the church looking to raise up artists and creatives who are using their gifs and talent for the glory of God? Or is that church stifling the artist and is stuck in one or two dimensional thinking when trying to convey it’s message?
In our church, the ladies get together for Craft Night. Craft night is, as you would thing, ladies getting together to paint and create seasonal crafts, etc. But why is the only kind of craft night most churches have? Why can’t their be a craft night for men to
- do wood work
- iron craft
- model painting
- drone flying
- car repair/upgrades
All of these could be “crafts” men participate if the church saw and men saw themselves as artists. The same goes for kids and youth. Are we showing kids and youth how not how to get off the media train, but how to discern, harness, and use the tech and media they love to speak the The Word.
In his book Real Artists don’t starve. talk about Hemingway’s journey to Paris. In Paris, Hemingway met all kinds of creative people that made him the creative he was.
Why can’t the church be someone’s Paris. A place where people who understand they have a God-given gift and want to use it for His glory? Why can’t someone with non-tradtional gifts and talents discover how to use them for God’s glory?
Youth workers, if God is calling you to use your creativity, sadly I cannot encourage you to just take any job, at any church. Go where God leads you.
In the end, you have to find your Paris, your scene, where your gifts can be cultivated and grown so you can make an impact.
If you are a youth worker, you are an artist and I recommend picking up Jeff’s book. Pick it up and follow along with me.