J Scott McElroy

Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Create ebook now free!

In Christian Art, Creativity on June 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

My friend Joey O’Connor at the Grove Center for the Arts and Media is now offering the e-book Create: Art, Life, and Faith for free. I recommend it to you!  And check out the ministry of The Grove while you’re on their site. Makes me want to move  to California and join in! Click on the picture below to get the download.

create  book pic


Art Needs No Justification

In Art, Christian Art, Church Art, Creativity, Uncategorized on March 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

This quote is lifted from Hans Rookmaaker’s 1978 book, Art Needs No Justification. I’ll refer to it in an upcoming post, and thought you might find it inspiring. I know I did.

“God gave humanity the skill to make things beautiful, to
make music, to write poems, to make sculpture, to decorate things. The artistic
possibilities are there to be actualized, realized by us, and to be given a concrete form.
God gave this to humankind and its meaning is exactly in its givenness. It is given by
God, has to be done through God, that is, through the talents he gives, in obedience to
him and in love for him and others. In this way it is offered back to him.
If in this way art has its own meaning as Gods creation, it does not need
justification. Its justification is its being a God-given possibility. Nevertheless it can
fulfill many functions. This is a proof of the richness and unity of Gods creation. It can
be used to communicate, to stand for high values, to decorate our environment or just to
be a thing of beauty. It can be used in the church. We make a fine baptismal font; we use
good silverware for our communion service and so on. But its use is much wider than
that. Its uses are manifold. Yet, all these possibilities together do not justify art.
Art has its own meaning. A work of art can stand in the art gallery and be
cherished for its own sake. We listen to a piece of music simply to enjoy it, a kind of
enjoyment that is not merely hedonistic; it surpasses that even if in some cases it can give
great pleasure. But it has the possibility of a great number of functions that result from art
being tied to reality with a thousand ties. It is exactly this last element that has been
underrated by those people who spoke of high Art as autonomous, for its own sake.
As art does not need justification, nobody has to be excused for making art.
Artists do not need justification, just as butchers, gardeners, taxi drivers, police officers
or nurses do not need to justify with clever arguments why they are doing their work.”

Growing a Paradise for Creativity and the Arts in Boise

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Church Art, Creativity, Family, Uncategorized on May 31, 2011 at 7:09 pm

The first thing I noticed when I walked out of the airport in Boise, Idaho was an unusual sweet scent in the air, kind of like marshmallows and flowers.  My hosts didn’t smell it so I wondered if it was my imagination or maybe the hand soap I used in Salt Lake City. Either way, I like being greeted by a nice scent in a new town. Aroma travel. Sounds like an idea.

That weekend with the community of VineArts artists from Vineyard Boise Church was truly wonderful. We started with an exquisitely fun Friday night workshop, brimming with enthusiastic artists, at Irene Deely’s amazing Woman of Steel Gallery–which is just as robust and creative as the name suggests. We covered a lot of the material I share in these situations: the New Renaissance in the arts, collaboration with God and hearing his voice, and did several hands-on exercises, but the expectation in the room took the event to a most enjoyable level. I think everyone came away with a new understanding of God’s plan for creativity. I know I did. When the meeting was over Jessie Nilo (VineArts Director) and I prayed specifically for anyone who wanted prayer. The affirming words and pictures from the Spirit  flowed like a mountain spring.

Jessie and I met in 2009 at the CIVA Conference in Minneapolis and our mutual interest in bringing the arts into the local church sparked a friendship.  Later, her group had fun studying  my book, Finding Divine Inspiration, and when it was time to plan their Biannual arts gala, they asked me to speak. This workshop was just supposed to be an add-on, but for me it was the first of many highlights.  Dinner and late-night conversation with my hosts Judy and Dean Estes, whose gifts of creativity and hospitality overflow into every room of their house, followed.  Then, on Saturday, there was a tour of the wonderful VineArts studio and gallery and the Arts Gala in the evening. Artists created throughout Heritage Hall, Vineyard Boise’s large public space, during that event.  There were painters, sculptors, culinary artists (incredible treats with spiritual meanings!), musicians and more. Jessie founded VineArts in 2004 and they use the Gala to showcase their many programs and try to raise some money.  Their ministry has grown to include a large art studio that is open multiple times a week for workshops, open studio time and meetings, regular arts outreach to nursing homes and schools, and more. (See more about what they do here.)

With all they’ve accomplished, the thing I love the most about VineArts is the sense of community these artists have. I felt it in their enthusiasm and expectation at that first workshop and I benefit from it every time I sign on to Facebook or get an encouraging email. I think it comes not only from the culture of their church and its leader Tri Robinson, but also from the fact that they’ve really collaborated with God in every step of building this ministry.

Some time over the weekend, I took a little drive into the mountains that border the city and hiked a bit. I hadn’t realized until I got there that Boise is in the high desert, so I was anxious to get out and touch the rocks and vegetation. I like to do that everywhere I go because its something that helps me connect to a place, to make the experience more “real”. The desert is one of my favorite places to do that, probably because its extremely different from my green Indiana landscape.   That day the sky, the light,  the hills and the rocks with their colorful lichen–everything–was beautiful. And as I broke off a piece of a desert bush, I smelled that fragrance again. It was sage. Sagebrush. Boise smells like sage.   That sweet fragrance summed up the whole trip.

Since that first trip, I’ve spent time with some of the VineArts leaders and I feels like we are family. Jessie Nilo recently joined me on staff at The New Renaissance Rising, and we led two workshops on the arts in the Church at the National Vineyard Leaders Conference in Phoenix in May. ( You know I got in a good hike in the Arizona desert mountains!)  We’ll do prayer ministry in June at the CIVA Conference in LA, and are working on a book called The Creative Church that will help churches release creativity in their congregations through establishing and maintaining arts ministry. Just a few days ago I was with a VineArts team at the Bethel School Of Supernatural Creativity in Redding, CA. They befriended my daughter, Hailee and cheered me on when I led a workshop. If I could have been in two places at the same time, I would have joined a second Boise team in Texas at an arts pastor’s retreat at Laity Lodge. (Watch the http://revelatorart.com site for an update on that.)

May the grace and joy with which VineArts and Vineyard Boise embrace the creativity and the arts in their church become the standard for the New Renaissance in churches around the world!

Unlocking the Hearts of Artists in Asheville

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Church Art, Creativity on May 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Last summer an artist friend forwarded a link for a creative conference in Asheville, NC called the Gathering of Artisans.  Now, I love the mountainous, artsy area around Asheville (including the Biltmore, which my family visited several years ago as the leaves were turning) so the location already had me hooked.   And the conference looked wonderful; many accomplished artists and speakers getting together in a beautiful setting to encourage each other, share tips on technique and ask God to move in the arts. I would have been there in a heartbeat last year if I wasn’t already speaking at a retreat scheduled in Indiana. It turned out I was in exactly the right place (see A Weekend of Kingdom Creativity ) and I wouldn’t have missed the Indiana retreat for the world, but this year my schedule is free for the Gathering of Artisans! The event will be four days from Sept 29th – Oct 2 with some very good speakers and over 50 workshops. I’ll be speaking a couple of times on the subject,  “Collaborating with God to Reach Your Creative Potential”.  Just click on the picture for all the info on the conference.

The man who put the conference together is an enthusiastic artist and worship leader named Matt Tommey. His group, The Worship Studio wants to create community for artists and sponsors this conference. Matt also recently release a book, which I’ve read and can recommend to you, called Unlocking the Heart of the Artist.

Click on the picture of the book to see more about it.

I hope you see you at the Gathering of Artisans in Asheville this fall.  Let me know if you plan to come!

How to Start an Arts Ministry in Your Church

In Art, Christian Art, Church Art, Creativity, Uncategorized on February 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

By J. Scott McElroy and Jessie Nilo

The ceiling of the Florence Baptistery in Italy. It dates from 1225 and tells the gospel story and other stories from the bible. It has impacted millions of people over hundreds of years, including many Renaissance artists.

Just imagine if the local church became the place in culture to experience beauty, creativity, and transcendence. Hundreds of years ago churches were, in many ways, centers for these experiences. Somehow, over time we’ve abdicated that role. Now, many churches are moving in that direction again and there’s a growing desire to begin developing creative arts programs (see Notes 1).

Many Christians are recognizing that God is calling us to reclaim the arts and renew the use of them in our churches. In many cases this means an “arts ministry” will be created to develop artists and projects.  Some activities that might fit under the title of “arts ministry” in the local church include: creating performance pieces for services (e.g., drama, dance, spoken word, etc.),

Dance and live painting during worship at an Indianapolis church.

creating live visual art for services (e.g., live painting during worship), creating gallery spaces for enjoyment and meditation (see Notes 9), creating art that is positioned permanently or seasonally behind the altar or around the sanctuary, creating interactive art, sensory, or “sacred space” experiences for the congregation, using the arts in community outreach (e.g., taking arts performances to nursing homes, shelters, schools, etc.), employing the arts as learning tools for youth, using the arts in counseling and therapy, using the arts spontaneously as  a mean of conveying “prophetic” messages, offering arts classes and workshops, and much more.

Most churches around the world don’t currently have much in the way of arts ministry or programs, though there are talented artists in their congregations. If God has been nudging you, speaking to you about incorporating the arts into your church, below are a few thoughts on how to get started. Part One offers tips for artists, Part Two for pastors and leaders.  It’s important to note that we believe the best way to develop a thriving arts ministry is to first build a strong arts community—a fellowship of artists—in your church.

Part One: For ARTISTS who want to start an arts ministry, program or outreach at their church

 1. Start praying now for God’s guidance. First, it’s important to take some time to pray through what role God would have you play in starting or facilitating an arts ministry. Ask Him to check your motives, prepare your heart, and confirm if He is calling you personally to initiate or lead. It’s good to be clear about this because there will be challenges ahead. You may encounter increased spiritual warfare, so you’ll need prayer support. Ask someone else to pray with you about integrating the arts in your church and for God to open the doors. You want this to happen naturally, in God’s timing, and to not be forced. God has a plan for the arts and creativity in your church, and if you listen and wait He’ll share it with you and others (see Notes 2 for prayer inspiration and direction).

2. Talk with someone in leadership about integrating the arts into your church. Connect with leadership. Your senior pastor may or may not be the person to approach to start this dialogue; it may be the worship pastor or an elder who “gets” you.  It’s common for churches to be entrenched in the “way we always do things,” so you need to be patient, respectful, and trustworthy in your approach. Try to determine what is important to your church and its leadership (e.g., outreach, discipleship, justice, community, etc.) and imagine how an arts ministry can further that mission. Put that in a presentation that makes sense to leadership. See if there is an official process for starting a ministry in your church. There may be an application you need to submit. If your church is more open to the arts, explore where leadership would like to go with the arts in the future. Ask for dates when arts projects would fit in to services. Get permission to hold a meeting for artists, if that seems to be the next step.

3. Invite artists to meet and pray. See if you can put a notice in the church bulletin inviting interested artists and creative types to meet at the church or a nearby coffeehouse to pray and talk about what integrating the arts into your church might look like. Use the time to pray, get to know each other, talk about possibly starting an arts ministry, gather contact information and circulate a survey (see Notes 3 for survey). Pray for needs, for healing, for projects, for commissioning. Maybe anoint each person with oil, if you do that kind of thing, or have everyone place

Artists discussing arts ministry.

their hands on the person being prayed for. Foster connection! If you have a large group, break up into groups of four people or so. Talk about dates for another meeting, possibly a repeating time once a month or once a quarter. Try to make future meetings a time to connect and be authentic with other artists

4. Start off by doing a multi-week book study. When you start meeting regularly, it’s a good idea to build community and camaraderie among artists before launching into projects. One excellent way to do this is to start with a book study. This will help build relationships in the group; you’ll learn and grow together and create a unified vision. Great books for study are Heart of the Artist (Noland), Finding Divine Inspiration (McElroy)(FindingDivineInspiration.com for the workbook), Imagine That (Luz), The Creative Call (Elsheimer), and The Artist’s Way (Cameron). Unlocking the Heart of the Artist (Tommy) and Born to Create (Dedmon) work well for a more charismatic approach. Imagine (Turner), Walking on Water (L’ Engle), and Art and the Bible (Schaeffer) are classic books to read together, though they’re not necessarily designed for a book study. (See TheNewR.org bookstore for more books on art and faith.)

5. Initiate some projects. After you’ve built community and gotten to know each other for at least a few months, start exploring projects or ideas you might try as a group. It’s important to give your growing group of artists a project to work toward. Go back to Step 2 and think about how you can assist in the mission of the church. Take some time during the meeting to brainstorm and listen to God together, asking Him how you can collaborate with Him in the arts (see Notes 4). There are many project ideas that can get your artists, the congregation and leadership involved (see Notes 5 for ideas) and enhance the church’s mission. You may need to start slowly with projects that are easily grasped. In many cases you will be educating the congregation and/or leadership in how to engage with the arts in a church setting. After you develop some ideas, invite your pastor or a leader to a meeting to talk about how they might work, and about setting a vision for the arts in your church.

Other things that will activate the talent and enthusiasm of your artists might include having some of them offer a workshop on their area of expertise to the congregation, or starting an art gallery in the church (see Notes 9 ), or you might collaborate to put together a special mid-week arts service, or design holiday services. Even if no specific church projects are immediately available, you can still build momentum by continuing to meet and/or setting up monthly or quarterly “creative days” where artists eat, create, and encourage one another in their creative callings.

Part Two:  For PASTORS AND LEADERS who want to start an arts ministry, program or outreach at their church

1. Seek God for His plan. Ask God to give you a vision for what He wants to do through the arts in your church. Just as pastors have specific messages from God for their congregations at specific times in history, so it is with the artists He has planted in your congregation. If you teach them to hear God’s voice they will bring powerful messages that enhance what He is doing in your congregation (see Notes 4). You might read a book like Heart of the Artist (Noland) or Finding Divine Inspiration (McElroy) to better understand how to disciple and encourage artists. The arts have endless applications in ministry; they can enhance worship, illustrate or enhance ideas and concepts, stir emotions, add beauty, enliven outreach, intuitively communicate God’s messages and more. God will use them in unique ways to convey His love to your congregation (see Notes 5 for ideas).

2. Pray for the right person to lead your artists. You want an arts ministry to develop naturally, in God’s timing, and to not be forced. Arts leaders can be difficult to find. Your ideal arts leader will probably need to be a mix of pastor and administrator. Their pastoral tendencies will be important to shepherd, encourage and understand the artists, and administrative skills will provide the follow-through that artists and artistic projects need. It’s helpful if the leader has artistic talent, but not mandatory as long as they understand the creative temperament. Make a commitment to disciple this person; they will be a huge asset to you and your church (see Notes 7).

3. Invite artists to meet and pray. When you have an arts leader, or at least someone who feels led to spearhead an arts effort, put a notice in the bulletin inviting interested artists and creative types to meet at the church or a nearby coffeehouse. Invite them to pray and talk about possibly starting an arts ministry. Use the time to gather contact information and circulate a survey (see Notes 3 for survey). Share the vision God has given you for the arts in your church. You might also take some time during the meeting to brainstorm and model how to listen to God together, seeking to collaborate with Him through the arts to bring His messages to your congregation. It’s very helpful to share the vision and values of the church with the artists and ask them to think about how the arts might enhance those.

4. Understand where they are coming from. Many artists have been offended by the church or Christians. Just spending time with them in this group setting will help them heal. You will bless them immensely if you take the time to pray for each of them individually at some point during the meeting. As these artists flourish, your congregation will flourish. When the arts and artists begin to integrate into a church, that congregation becomes more complete and mature because the Body of Christ is operating as it should, with each part and gift building up the other (Romans 12:4-6) (see Notes 8).

5. Help launch the ministry. Later, when you have an arts leader and they have built community with artists in the church, have them call another meeting—which you attend—to talk about specific arts projects you and they want to do. Your attendance will help commission them and clarify direction. NOTE: It is important to meet at least occasionally with your arts leadership. Discuss difficulties, challenges and dreams they have. Give them a list of dates, topics or services you’d like to see the arts integrated into, and reiterate the church’s mission and values. MAKE SURE you’ve spent time listening to them first. If you give them ideas first they may be overloaded. Help them to set up a plan for discipling the artists in their care. Let them know you and the church stand behind them.

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an arts ministry can open new doors of experience and understanding for your congregation and may become one of the richest and most enjoyable ministries of your church.

A historic movement is underway. It’s a movement that will connect artists with the ultimate Creator, awaken creativity in the average person, invigorate the local church, and convey God’s love to the world in authentic and creative ways.

It’s a New Renaissance, and you and your church have a part in it.


  1. See a growing list of churches with Arts Ministries at http://TheNewR.org under “The Arts in Your Church,”  “Church Arts Ministries.”
  2. “Prayers for the New Renaissance” provided at http://TheNewR.org in “Material and Ideas.”
  3. Arts Survey available at http://TheNewR.org in “Materials and Ideas.”
  4. See the book Finding Divine Inspiration (http://FindingDivineInspiration.com) for more on leading artists to hear God’s voice.
  5. See “Materials and Ideas” at http://TheNewR.org.
  6. For more information, ideas and resources go to The New Renaissance Arts Movement at http://TheNewR.org.
  7. Revolutionary Leadership by Tri Robinson is a good book to read and pass on to arts leaders. See this article: How the Church can Embrace the Arts: Pt. 2 for ideas on how to integrate the arts and maintain a standard of quality. (from https://jscottmc.wordpress.com)
  8. See this article, “The Arts and the Maturity of the Church.” (from https://jscottmc.wordpress.com)
  9. For great advice on church art galleries see this article: “How to Start an Art Gallery in Your Church” by Christopher Brewer (under “Articles” at http://TheNewR.org).

J. Scott McElroy is founder and director of The New Renaissance Arts Movement, the author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity(Destiny Image) and director of arts at Vineyard Community Church, Indianapolis, Ind. He blogs at https://jscottmc.wordpress.com. Reach him at: Scott@TheNewR.org.

Jessie Nilo is director of church-artist connections for The New Renaissance Arts Movement, founder and director of VineArts, the arts ministry of Vineyard Boise Church, and a teacher at Fresco Arts Academy, Boise. VineArts operates with a team of 13 leaders that facilitates arts workshops, mission trips, outreaches, studies, a gallery and more. Their permanent studio is open weekly and provides space for the visual arts, writing, culinary arts, film, and design. Reach Jessie at: Jessie@TheNewR.org.

A Weekend of Kingdom Creativity

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Creativity, Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I led an overnight creativity retreat in early October, and had high hopes for what would happen when a group of artists got together for

Sunrise and Mist at Teter Retreat Noblesville, In.

a weekend of listening to the Holy Spirit and creating art. The reality actually exceeded my expectations.

Thirteen artists from Indiana and Ohio met at  Teter Family Retreat in Noblesville, IN, a  hidden rustic compound ringed by cornfields and forests and within walking distance of the shallow White River.  I’d never heard of  it even though it was 40 mins from my house.

Friday evening started with worship from our friend Jason Barrows, a talented local singer/songwriter.  I spoke about what God is doing in the arts, our place in the New Renaissance and touched on some of the concepts in Finding Divine Inspiration.  We did some creative exercises, and spent time praying for every person present, while Jason created acoustical magic with his guitar. The Holy Spirit’s presence was sweet while we went around the room praying and blessing each artist. Jason said he just kept getting interesting ideas and riffs from God and kept playing until the last person left for their cabin.

Artists at riverside.

Saturday morning we walked through the process of learning to listen to God, with plenty of time to practice each step. Developing the skills for learning to listen to the Holy Spirit is the foundation of everything we do in these creativity seminars, and it always creates a sense of peace and centeredness that often surprises people.  Creating art is a wonderful experience, but seeing artists really get how loved they are but their Father, no matter what they do or don’t do, no matter if they never make another piece of art, brings the greatest sense of fulfillment. Later in the day we took that sense of love and acceptance and a heightened sensitivity to His voice and did create art. And these artists were ready fly!  Every one came loaded with materials and expectations, and jumped right in to the collaborative exercises. First we paired up and took a moment to pray for our partner, asking God to give us a picture for them.  Then we took a few minutes to sketch or paint, etc, what came to mind, trusting that it might be from God. Then, partners switched to pray for the other person and repeat the process.  One pair burst into uncontrollable laughter in the middle of their exchange, leaving the rest of use serious, earnest folk to wonder what could possibly be so funny in such a moment.  Later, the two came up to show the pictures they’d drawn for each other. They struggled to contain themselves as they explained that they had prayed the night before for several specific things and the drawings they did for each other had–incredibly–referenced each thing. These were women who had never met before this weekend and I don’t believe had ever done an exercise like this.

I had encouraged everyone the night before to ask God to speak  about what seemed to be holding them back in their creativity. One of

Work in progress.

these laughing girls said that she asked God why certain things were not happening in her life, and she felt He said, “Because you haven’t asked!”  So she made a list of four things she wanted to see happen. The picture her partner drew was amazingly detailed, full of symbols and images, and it addressed every single thing on her list!  Laughter broke out around the room. The other woman had a similar experience. Her picture illustrated and affirmed words and prayers that were spoken over her the night before that her partner knew nothing about.

There were similar stories from others and I was thrilled once again to witness how God loves to speak to and through us when we trust that He will.  By the end of the retreat there was this wonderful sense of community that had developed among us. We really did get a taste of the joy and promise of Kingdom Creativity. I really didn’t want the weekend to be over.

Thanks to the folks at The Church of Praise for providing the food for the retreat, Betsy Potts and Cathy Freeman for organizing it, and Betsy and John for all their hard work.

For information on speaking engagements, seminars and retreat weekends, contact me at scott@FindingDivineInspiration.com.

The Teter Retreat group.

Story Conference Chicago, 2010

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Creativity, Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm

In summer of this year a packet of  mysterious and highly creative postcards arrived in the mail. They announced a creative conference that seemed almost too good to be true: Story Chicago was billed as an event “for the creative class in ministry”  with the goal of  fueling “the producer generation of ministry leaders who live to communicate the greatest story ever today–the gospel.”  The postcards claimed,  “You’ll hear from some of the best creative practitioners in both ministry and the marketplace. From filmmakers and authors to actors and musicians, these presenters will help you engage people in the most compelling and effective way.” Very interesting stuff. But the knockout punch came when I  went to the website. The Story website is very possibly the most creative faith-based site I’ve ever seen. Every creative person I’ve showed it to utters, “Whoooaa.”

The site was created by the insanely inventive Pixel Peach Studios, and their founder  Gary Dorsey spoke at the event.  Other featured speakers at the conference  included authors Dan Allender and Leonard Sweet, the Producer of  TV’s “Roseanne” and “Home Improvement”, David McFadzean, Charlie Todd, the guy who founded Improv Everywhere,  and David Hodges, formerly with the band  Evanescence. The whole event was the brainchild of Ben Arment,  author and New Renaissance man.

Well, you know where I was the when the conference started on Sept 23rd, 2010. Firmly planted in a seat at  Park Community Church beside a couple of Indianapolis friends. The 500-seat conference was officially sold out, but my friends Jonathon “JT” Tremaine Thomas, founder of Eastgate Studios here in Indy, and Steven Potaczek, lead singer of 1000 Generations were able to a get some tickets from some folks in Michigan who couldn’t make it.

One of the first things we noticed was the oddly configured stage (hard to see here), a platform for creating giant holograms designed by Clark.  This was a tricked out version of some of the technology that large churches with multiple sites use to create life-like images of teachers who are actually speaking from another location.  Faith-based holograms. Very impressive.

In many ways, Story lived up to its amazing promotional material. Not only was it possibly the best designed and packaged conference (visually) that I’ve attended, but many of the speakers were excellent.  Dan Allender’s message of discovering and telling the story God has written in us was brilliant, Charlie Todd (though not focusing on spiritual aspects) unpacked a suitcase full of inspiration when he showed us several of his Improv Everywhere skits.  Blaine Hogan, Creative Director at Willow Creek Church in the Chicago suburbs, contributed some wonderful dramatic presentations. (By the way, you can see some of Blaine’s work from the 2009 Wonder conference Here, and a story about Willow’s unique Christmas pageant Here.)  We left feeling refreshed and re-energized, all three of us deep in thought and brimming with  possibilities.

Thanks to Ben and his team for raising the bar for what creativity in the Church can look like.  I’ll be back for more Story in 2011. Keep watching the New Renaissance Rising website (http://TheNewR.org) for updates on this and other creative conferences.

By the way, If you enjoy creative websites like the Story’s, check out the site of  artist Daniel Baltzer, founder of the Limner Society.

Do You have the “Spirit of Creativity”?

In Art, Christian Art, Creativity, Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm

For Christians, it’s certain that God is the most creative being in the universe.

A celestial doodle from God's exquisite imagination

From the inconceivably beautiful/bizarre celestial formations seen through the Hubble telescope, to the impossibly complex and equally beautiful universe inside a single cell, His creativity and imagination leave us in awe. He paints a million constantly changing masterpieces in sunsets and cloud formations everyday. His brilliance in conceiving, designing, growing and sustaining living beings like humans and animals will never be eclipsed.

And, as they say about family traits, His creativity runs in the blood of His children. Jesus, our brother if you will, said we would do even greater creative acts and miracles than he did while He was on the earth.   For most of us that is hard to imagine, let alone achieve. Why is this?

Creativity runs in the family?

I think there are several reasons why we don’t feel we live up to the family legacy of creativity. First is the misunderstanding of what creativity is.  Many who think that they aren’t  “creative” or “artists” don’t think that they can flow in the spirit of creativity.   Actually, a major part of creativity is problem solving and decision-making, things that we each do every day.  Creativity is involved in how we respond to people and situations.  Prayer, led by the Holy Spirit is incredibly creative, often calling things into existence that are only seen in the imagination.   The Holy Spirit is present and involved in each of these activities, and He loves to whisper and nudge and partner with us in them. And when we listen and respond, that IS flowing in the spirit of creativity!

Taking this thought a step further, the fact is; we were all designed specifically for creative collaboration with the ultimate creator! We cannot live without human creative collaboration on the natural level; it is essential for everything from the conception of life, to relationships, to work.  Even something as simple as watching a TV show requires collaboration; the actors and writers and technical people not only collaborate with each other to make the show, but they must have an audience to collaborate in watching it.  Apply the concept of collaboration to our relationship with God, Who knows every iota of our personal potential and is “especially fond of us”, and you have the makings of the most fulfilling, exciting and productive flow of creativity imaginable. He beckons us to get to know His intimate voice and then partner with Him wherever we happen to be at any given moment, collaborating to bring His kingdom and redemptive creative solutions into the world, often in simple, ordinary ways.   And while we partner with Him, He reveals more of His incredible design and loving intentions for us as individuals.   The truth is, God craves creative collaboration with us, and there is joy for Him and us in it!

Exterior of a single cell

The skill of listening for God’s voice is at the foundation of flowing in the Spirit of creativity.  It’s the way that we begin to tap into the family legacy, the family business, you might say.  Jesus claimed that He didn’t do anything on his own, but only what He heard the father speaking to Him. In other words, the only way that He did all the creative miracles, came up with all the creative answers and stories that stumped the learned men of the day, was through collaborating with His (and our) Father in every situation. That creativity is available to us when we learn to listen for God’s voice.

One of the great joys of my life has been God’s gracious leading down the path of this creative collaboration with Him. In my book, Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity I share what He’s taught me and explore practical biblical keys for developing that all-important skill of learning to hear His voice.   I pray that you would experience more of the flow of the creative spirit in your life and the joyful creative collaboration you were destined for!

J. Scott McElroy is the author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity (Destiny Image), founder of The New Renaissance Rising arts renewal movement (TheNewR.org), Director of Arts at Vineyard Community Church (North) in Indianapolis and a national voiceover artist. He speaks and leads workshops around the country on his book, learning to hear God’s voice, the renewal of the arts in the Church and more.  Contact him at:  scott@FindingDivineInspiration.com

Mel Gibson’s Meltdown: A Cautionary Tale for Christian Artists

In Christian Art, Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 NIV

I’ve been praying for Mel Gibson recently.  These crazy phone recordings of he and his ex-girlfriend that have surfaced on the Internet are just heartbreaking. He sounds like a man on the edge; cursing, ranting and threatening…tormented by his choices, lack of friends, possibly alcohol or medication and —most certainly—satan. And why wouldn’t he be attacked by satan? Even without his failings and bad choices (some possibly even criminal), he makes a delicious target for the enemy. Mel’s masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ must have had a major effect in the spiritual realm. It was a proclamation to satan that his time is short, a vehicle for millions of believers to grow closer to their God and non-believers to be exposed to the gospel, and a major attack against the stronghold of evil in the arts. Mel was the main human force who made it happen. He was aware that there would be spiritual attacks when making the film in 2003 and said, “Imagine: There’s a huge war raging, and it’s over us! … For some reason, we’re important in this thing. I don’t understand it. We’re a bunch of d***heads and idiots and failures and creeps. But we’re called to the divine; we’re called to be better than our nature would have us be. And those big realms that are warring and battling are going to manifest themselves very clearly, seemingly without reason, here—a realm that we can see. And you stick your head up and you get knocked.” (The New Yorker, 10/15/03) and later, “There is a spiritual dark force that didn’t want us to make the film. It’s so completely palpable while your doing it.”  (EWTN, 1/24/04)

Steve Turner talks eloquently about spiritual warfare in the arts in his excellent book, Imagine:  “I’m convinced that the world of the arts, media, and entertainment, because of its access to the imaginations of so many millions, is a place of great interest to the spiritual forces of evil. As a movie director recently observed, “L.A. is the town that controls world storytelling for both children and adults.’” Artists have no special protection. In fact, because of their tendency to be curious about all forms of experience and their need to avoid rigid forms of thinking, they are probably more vulnerable to temptation. The standard protection kit offered to all Christians is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and prayer (Ephesians 6). We can’t survive with the T-Shirt of Sunday school memories and the baseball cap of personal vision.”

For some of us, talk of having to deal with spiritual warfare is overwhelming or frightening. But remember, regardless of what the horror movies say, God is exponentially greater than the devil. Satan is only a finite, created being; God is the infinite, uncreated, multiple “omni” being. And His power living in us enables us to stand against the enemy.

As Christians, when we step into the destiny God has prepared for us we can be assured that: 1. Spiritual attacks WILL come and, 2.God WILL provide everything we need to be victorious.

God doesn’t expect us to fight the battle on our own power; He gives us protection and weapons that we can become adept with. Many Christians know little about appropriating the armor of God in their lives.  I often actually go through the motions of putting the armor on in order to bring it to life for me. It may look goofy, but it works.

Also, in fighting the spiritual battle, it is essential to reach out to other believers for support. Satan will try to isolate us and trick us into believing we are self-sufficient, especially if we’ve had some spiritual success.   I’ve spoken and written about spiritual warfare many times, yet the effects of it still sneak up on me when I lose sight of the facts in Ephesians 6:12. I have to get my nose back in God’s word and find other believers to stand with in the battle. And it’s important, especially if you are moving in an area like the arts, to partner with others in prayer. Here is a journal entry included in my book Finding Divine Inspiration:

“September 1999: I was struggling with heavy spiritual attacks after writing sessions (for this book); feeling worthless, depressed, having crazy thoughts. This caused me to slowly become discouraged and back off from the project. One night I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to turn on a Christian TV channel. The host was preaching about attacks from the enemy. His encouragement shined a light on the subtle lies I had bought into and caused me to realize that attacks were to be expected and that, in the power to God’s Spirit, I could and should push through. I began asking some people to pray with me before I wrote. Some time later, as I was praying, I felt the Father saying I must see myself as a warrior, that I must walk into battle or be prepared to meet and vanquish the enemy and that I can’t do it alone; I must work with other warriors. The realization came that I needed a regular prayer support team.”  Since then, I often feel their prayers very strongly when I alert them to what I’m going through.

Yes, Mel Gibson had an affair, got a divorce, got his girlfriend pregnant, possibly hit her and spewed profanity and racial slurs onto a secretly recorded tape. There is no excuse for much of this behavior. His choices have undoubtedly led to the sad state of his life, and we can all learn from that. But I’m certain that satan and his minions have been there every step, egging Mel on, setting up circumstances for him to fail, working to discredit an artist who created a powerful work of art for God’s glory.  I’m also convinced that the Father and His angels have been there as well, calling him back, providing him what he needs to overcome, and making a way out of temptation for him. And God will continue to do that for Mel and for us.  We are in the middle of similar spiritual battle.

So, resist the enemy and he will flee from you, drawn near to God and He will drawn near to you (James 4:7-8), make putting on the spiritual armor a regular part of your routine, get into Christian community where you can be real and get and give support, and ask God to bring others who could support you in prayer. These are steps to victory in the inevitable spiritual struggle that occurs as we take our true place in the world and God’s kingdom.   It is worth it, and in the middle of it we often find our real identity and destiny, our authentic selves, the reasons for our talents and abilities, and the source of real joy.

And having done all you can, simply stand strong.

And remember to pray for Mel.

J. Scott McElroy is the founder of The New Renaissance Rising and author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working With the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity (2008, Destiny Image).  He is a writer, voiceover artist, visual artist, and award-winning radio producer who is passionate about redeeming the arts through collaborating with the Holy Spirit. As a voiceover artist, he hosted the Animal Planet TV series “Wildlife Journal” from 2004-2007. His voice is heard on national TV commercials, video games, websites and more. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Danielle daughter Hailee and son Kaia. Email Scott at  Scott@FindingDivineInspiration.com .

INFUSE Creativity Conference Invite

In Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Hope you can join us if you are in the Denver area July 30th or 31st!