J Scott McElroy

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Art’

Summer 2014 Update

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Church Art, Creativity, Uncategorized on June 23, 2014 at 6:39 pm

(Note: You’ve come upon an archive site. Scott is now blogging at JScottMcElroy.com. These and fresh posts can be seen there! )

After spending 7 months sitting at the writing-table with the new book, I’m venturing out for a couple of great speaking opportunities in July.

Karitos 2014

If you are in the Midwest, consider attending Karitos 2014 in Chicago, July 10-12. It’s their 20th anniversary and I’m honored to give a featured address and lead three workshops: “How to karitosBetter Hear God’s Voice in Your Creativity”, “The Joy of Personal Prophetic Art”, and “Practical Ideas for Bringing the New Creative Renaissance into Your Church and Your Culture”. More information at http://Karitos.com.

The Creative Church Conference 2014

Then it’s on to the long-awaited Creative creative church logoChurch Conference 2014 in Boise, July 25-27!  If you at all interested in encouraging the arts and creativity in the church, you should join us! This year’s lineup of speakers and activities is stellar. This year’s theme is “The Artist in Community”.  Speakers include:

  • Dr. Colin Harbinson (Stoneworks Global Art Initiative)
  • Jessie Nilo (VineArts Boise)
  • Jason Leith (Artist, Director of Arts, Saddleback Church )
  • Manuel Luz (Imagine That, Worship Director at Oak Hills Church)
  • Dave Blakeslee (Potter and Pastor)
  • Bryn Gillette (Artist)
  • Andrew Nemr (Dance Artist)
  • Cecilia Brie Tschoepe (Actor, Writer, Director)
  • Me
  • and many more.

(Look for profiles on each speaker over the next couple of weeks on the New Renaissance Facebook page. )

Plus, plenty of workshops, creative free time, performances, interaction with other artists and leaders, and more.

And, it’s only $75!

Go to the website to register and for more information: http://TheNewR.com

The event is sponsored by VineArts Boise and The New Renaissance Arts Movement (a department of ACT Intl).

New book on the way!

You may have noticed that we had planned to do a Creative Church Conference in Indy this year, as well.  The New Renaissance Arts Movement, which I direct, is the main intervarsity-press-IMPRINTSsponsor of the Indy event, and one of our biggest priorities is to get a new book out about the arts in the church. IVP (InterVarsity Press) offered to publish the book last year and I began working on it full time last November. That process took considerably longer than expected and the first draft was completed in May. Since I was tied up writing, we decided to consolidate this year’s Creative Church Conferences into the one in Boise. (We plan to do Indy again in 2016.)

Now the new book is in the editing process at IVP and we have an official title: The Creative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation. We expect it to release in Spring 2015. Thanks to all who have prayed and contributed during this process!

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Insightful Thoughts on Writing

In Creativity, Writing on May 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm

(Note: You’ve come upon an archive site. Scott is now blogging at JScottMcElroy.com. These and fresh posts can be seen there! )

Though I do feel “compelled” or “called” to write, much of what Jennifer Grant says in this blog post really resonates with me. In fact, so much so that I printed this out for my wife so she might get a little more insight into this writing life.

I would add to this list: Reason #4. The joy of collaborating with God.  We were all created for good works (and work) which He prepared in advance for us to do. I find when I move forward into what He is calling me to do–in this case, writing–and push past fear and procrastination, I’ll often experience moments of joy as I listen to His voice and guidance, then try to translate it into written word. Not that everything I write comes directly from God’s mouth to the page. Certainly not. My imperfect humanity is fully involved in the process.  But even in that, He is allowing me to collaborate with Him, and sometimes I am filled with joy in the process.

This post comes from Tim Fall’s blog  Just One Train Wreck After Another.

Why I Write? (Hint: Not Because I “Must”) – a guest post from Jennifer Grant

[Today’s guest post is from Jennifer Grant, a wonderful writer and an outstanding encourager, who brings both to bear in this piece on writing. How can you not enjoy reading someone who can put the Rolling Stones, Star Trek and a dog named Shiloh all into one article? ]

***

Not Because I Must

Some writers talk about their chosen profession as though it’s better described as a compulsion:

“I write because I must,” they sigh.

My dog Shiloh seems to understand his habit of chasing squirrels in the same way; when he sees one nosing around the yard, he must try to catch it.

A Star Trek devotee might explain the need to attend a convention by saying he must (boldly) go.

Chided for drenched wet socks and shoes, children may defend their choice to jump in rain puddles by saying they “just had to.”

But the writer who “must” write is expressing something qualitatively different than the dog, the Trekkie, or the puddle-jumping child. In short, the “I must write” writer seems to be wearily obeying an internal directive and lacks the panting, the giggles, and the joy.

Writers, including myself, are arguably happier (or at least less uneasy) when we are regularly practicing our craft. Some of us – again, myself included – routinely confess that we can’t begin to understand something until we write about it.

But the idea that we must write? I don’t think it’s true. If we stopped, would the sun still rise? Would human hearts, including our own, continue to reoxygenate blood? Would Adam Levine continue to insist that he has the moves, like, well you-know?

(Um, yep. On all three counts.)

If It’s Not that I “Must,” Why Do I Keep Writing?

Here are three reasons I write, in order of most to least mundane:

1.      I write because I can do it from home. (Or, “It fits with my other vocation: parenting.”)

2.      I write because I like my colleagues. (Or, “Writers are soulful folks to know.”)

3.      I write because it’s how I make sense of life. (Or, “I can only figure stuff out when I write about it.”)

Read the rest of this insightful post HERE.

The Creative Church Conference Recordings Are Now Available!

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Church Art, Creativity, Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Here is the news from our non-profit, The New Renaissance Arts Movement.

New Renaissance

At the New Renaissance Arts Movement, we’re about connecting, equipping, and inspiring artists and churches for a New Renaissance. We believe that God is releasing a renewal of the arts and creativity in the local church and an infusion of spiritually powerful art into the culture. We believe this movement will connect artists with the ultimate Creator and their true selves, invigorate the Body of Christ, and convey God’s love to the world in authentic and creative ways.

To that end, last summer we hosted The Creative Church Conferences in Indianapolis and Boise; ground-breaking forums for ideas and inspiration about the role of the arts and artists in the church. Creative leaders liked Rory Noland (Heart of the Artist), Theresa Dedmon (Bethel Church, CA), J. Scott McElroy (Finding Divine Inspiration), Beth Booram (Awaken Your Senses), Jessie Nilo (VineArts Boise), Joe Boyd (Vineyard Cincinnati) and others shared visionary ideas and practical applications in 15 sessions and workshops!

Now, we are making the complete recordings from the Indianapolis conference available on DVD, CD and MP3 download.

Topics include:Creative_Church_Conference_DVD

Examples of the Power of the Arts in Community Outreach

Leading Your Congregation in Sensory Worship

Starting an Arts Ministry in Your Church

Healing Through the Arts

Creating Sacred Space

Thriving as an Artist in the Church

Painting Live for Church Services

Telling the Kingdom Story Creatively

Designing and Running a Church Gallery

Panel Discussions full of practical applications

and much more!

These recordings are full of ideas and inspiration for artists, church leaders, arts supporters, arts groups, and more. Order the complete set at a discount or choose individual sessions and workshops on DVD, CD or Mp3 download at http://www.TheNewR.org/.

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—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Now Non-Profit!

The New Renaissance Arts Movement became a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2012, through ACT International!

We are supported by people who want to see creativity, the arts, and artists thrive in local churches, for the purpose of making God’s incredible love know in the world.

To make a tax-deductible donation click here or you may also contribute by check by making it out to: “New Renaissance/ACT” and emailing us for the address at : thenewr@thenewr.org

Please consider us in your year-end giving.

A Little Justification for Art

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Church Art, Creativity, Family on March 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Rookmaaker in the classroom.

In 1977 noted Christian philosopher Hans Rookmaaker wrote a small book titled Art Needs no Justification. His premise was that art, creativity, and beauty have inherent value simply because God gave them to us. In a general sense, art doesn’t need a reason to exist, any more than a tree needs a reason to exist. (I included a larger quote from it here.) It’s an inspiring thought.

But it is nice to have a little justification; an occasional confirmation that our artistic endeavors are on the right track.

Scott speaking at Bethel ’11.

Last spring, during a speaking trip to California, my daughter and I were at the Bethel School of Supernatural Creativity in Redding to lead a workshop. One of the interesting  things they do at the school is set up an “Encounter Room”, where attendees can experience a number of forms of creativity that are designed to be led by the Holy Spirit. I’ve written before about the prophetic culinary table, where chefs create a delightful treat in front of you while interpreting the meaning of each ingredient.  There’s also an area where dancers will do interpretive prophetic dance as you sit and pray, and a booth where children from the Bethel elementary school will pray for you then ask God to give them a picture or a word about your life. It’s amazing how powerful those innocent little crayon and colored pencil pictures and words are.

This kind of risky, out-of-the-box creativity is at first disorienting, then thrilling to watch. “What if it doesn’t work?” you might think. Well, what if it does! These people trust that God will inspire their creativity so that others can experience a unique personal encounter with Him. It may sound downright strange to the uninitiated, but it’s certainly not any more unusual than much of performance art you see in the world, some of which is designed to shock and disturb. This is designed to spread God’s love.

One of the encounters at this event involved a roving drama troupe that would walk around the “Encounter Room” looking for people whom God seemed to highlight. The actors would address those people and perform a little improv drama. When this troupe came across my daughter they gave her some encouraging words, then handed her a branch from a bush that they felt God had led them to collect earlier. It was some sort of holly I think, with shiny, thick leaves. This was a meaningful experience for Hailee, for reasons she couldn’t fully explain, and she kept the branch, carrying it during the last leg of our trip in California then on the plane back home to Indiana.

Somewhere along the way we noticed that the branch actually had a strange growth on it, like a very hard and reptilian-looking cocoon. At home we decided to put the branch in water and see how long the leaves would stay green, and then we pretty much forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later my wife started noticing dozens of pesky little green bugs around the kitchen. There’s nothing that Danielle hates more than bugs in the house, so my mission became to eradicate them and find the source of the infestation.  As I took a closer look at the little pests, I realized that they weren’t gnats or average, run-of-the-mill bugs; these were actually baby praying mantises! Yep, that odd cocoon had a little rip in it. They were Northern California praying mantises that had survived the multi-day journey home and a couple of weeks in our kitchen, to hatch when and where God intended!

This little miracle was a confirmation for Hailee of how God loves and cares for her and of His appreciation for her unique personality.  She loves random and odd occurrences and this turn of events brought a sense of joy and wonder to both of us.  When she looked up the meaning of a praying mantis, what jumped off the page is that they can be interpreted as a symbol of direction, to point your way home. As a 20-year old in a confusing world, she needs direction, and this was God’s confirmation that He will bring it. That He sees her.  It also served to affirm some personal things He’d been speaking to her.

This special message for my daughter started with a group of young artists, many Hailee’s age and younger, who were nurtured and encouraged by the ministry of a risk-taking church. They asked God for a little inspiration and stepped out to make an unusual improv performance art piece, hoping that it might have some impact on someone. It did, and neither of us will ever forget it.

Dear Artist of faith, keep working in the areas, on the projects that God is compelling you to. Keep seeking Him, asking for ideas and inspiration. Keep aspiring to collaborate with Him, keep taking risks. The making of art may need no justification, but sometimes, in surprising and whimsical ways, God gives it.

A baby praying mantis on Hailee’s finger.

J. Scott McElroy is the author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity (Destiny Image), and Founder and Director of The New Renaissance Arts Movement. Reach him at: Scott@TheNewR.org.

The Epic 2011 Recap

In Art, Arts Conferences, Christian Art, Christian Arts Conference, Church Art, Creativity, Family, Uncategorized on February 1, 2012 at 12:06 am

Speaking at the Bethel School of Supernatural Creativity '11.

Although not exactly “The best of times and the worst of times”, 2011 was a bit of a personal rollercoaster ride. I touched on some of the year’s difficulties in the last post, but before January slips away I want to recap the positive highlights. And there were many.

There were exciting opportunities to carry the Finding Divine Inspiration and New Renaissance message to more people in more places in 2011 than ever before. I had the privilege of speaking across denominations and age groups, from Catholics to Pentecostals, and 5th graders to grandmas.  It’s thrilling and humbling to watch God release creativity and open the doors of hearts and churches across the country. I thought sharing some of these successes might be an encouragement to you.

The Releasing

The year began with a January conference called “The Releasing” at Bread of Life Church just outside of Indianapolis. I was invited to lead a workshop and train people in the concept of collaboration with God in our creativity. Gaining the skills of hearing and responding to God’s voice is one of the most important things any believer can do, so helping folks to experience that and then practice it is one of the greatest honors of my life. The most profound spiritual growth in us individually and the most effective work for the Kingdom is built on the foundation of personal experience with and guidance from God.

Suzy Yaraei led a some really wonderful worship during the main sessions of this conference, and I did a little spontaneous live painting.

The Foundry

Live painting during during a service at The Foundry.

In February, it was off to Nashville, TN to speak at The Foundry and attend the inaugural C3 Conference.  I’d heard about the great work with the arts that Scott McLeod and his team at The Foundry and Harvest Sound have humbly and consistently cultivated over the years; weekly worship coffeehouses, church services, worship training schools, music and recording ministry, and mentoring.  And my heart felt at home when I experienced the enthusiasm with which they worship and the love and inclusiveness that pervade the place.  I spoke on Tuesday night to a small but VERY enthusiastic crowd, and snuck back in on Friday night to absorb some of their weekend worship. One of the highlights for me that night was when one of the singers cut loose on the word “blood”, screaming it out like “screamo” bands do. “Nothing but the BLOOOOD!!”  It was thrillingly appropriate.  I look forward to visiting The Foundry again, soon!

C3 Conference

After The Foundry, and still in Nashville, The first annual C3 Conference got underway. The lineup of speakers was remarkable: Andy Crouch, Mako Fujimura, Donald Miller, and more presented some of the richest insight on the arts/faith connection that I’ve experienced at a gathering like this. Organizer Tim Jones offered us booth space to share the New Renaissance mission and materials.  If you are looking for an excellent arts conference and you are anywhere near Nashville, I highly recommend C3, March 1-3. Andy and Mako will both return this year.

Vineyard National Conference

Cactus flower at South Mountain Park, Phoenix.

In May I headed to Phoenix and the Vineyard National Leaders Conference. One of the hats I wear is Director of Arts at the Indy Vineyard Church, and I love the Vineyard’s international legacy in the arts.  The movement has always welcomed artists, having been started by a musician (John Wimber), and Vineyard worship music played a central role in the revolution of contemporary church music in the 80’s. Jessie Nilo, my cowriter and Director of VineArts at the Boise Vineyard, and I believe Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Encounter ’11

In Arts Conferences, Christian Arts Conference, Church Art, Creativity, Uncategorized on October 4, 2011 at 1:04 am

Join me for a very cool creative retreat in northern Indiana, Creative Encounter ’11, October 28th-30th!

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.

Notes:

  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.