Many times in min­istry, we are called by God to work along­side peo­ple with com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, pas­sions, dri­ves, trig­gers, and meth­ods to our­selves. Such is the bless­ing of diver­sity within the Church.

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How­ever, we have all been in sit­u­a­tions where our dif­fer­ences become stum­bling blocks to min­istry, as we seek to work effec­tively and pro­duc­tively with the team God has raised around us. So, how do we lever­age our strengths and build our weak­nesses to allow effec­tive team build­ing on our cre­ative ser­vice teams in our churches? Here are some point­ers that may be use­ful, derived from Rory Noland (Heart of the Artist ministries):


1. Be gen­tle to your artists.

The very process of cre­ativ­ity involves vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Artists who care deeply about their craft wear their heart on their sleeve each time they play, act, design, present or write. In terms of their craft, this is where pas­sion and power comes from. How­ever, in terms of inter­per­sonal rela­tion­ships, there is poten­tial for great hurt, dis­ap­point­ment and discouragement.

Action points:

  • Ask ques­tions that mine the depth of feel­ing or thought behind the art­form ie: “how did you feel when you wrote that?” or “what do you think is pow­er­ful about this piece?”
  • Lis­ten atten­tively, with­out try­ing to solve prob­lems. Many cre­atives value the process of work­ing through feel­ings and atti­tudes on their way to an answer. Don’t take away from them the process of work­ing this through in their own time. Pro­vide a lis­ten­ing ear, and feed­back in your own words what you are hear­ing them saying.
  • Be mind­ful that judge­ments or opin­ions about their art may in fact be taken per­son­ally. Ensure that crit­i­cisms are always con­struc­tive, and be care­ful to encour­age the artist, espe­cially if you are cri­tiquing the art.

2. Love your artists, and encour­age them to love each other.

Cre­ative peo­ple develop a deep love for their craft, but it is impor­tant that they are encour­aged to love the peo­ple more than the art­form. This is impor­tant in build­ing a sense of com­mu­nity within your artists. Model this by valu­ing the artist above their art.

Action points:

  • Make a point of telling them that you value them (for more var­ied rea­sons than just their artis­tic con­tri­bu­tion). Encour­age them to do the same with fel­low artists, to build community.
  • Take an inter­est in their work. Even if you don’t quite under­stand it, try to give com­pli­ments that reveal a lit­tle of your emo­tional response to the work. Ask them what they were feeling/​thinking as they cre­ated it.

3. Exhort your artists.

It is impor­tant that artists are con­tin­u­ally encour­aged towards devel­op­ing both cre­ative skill and Godly char­ac­ter. Excel­lence (Doing the best you can with what God has given you) is depen­dant upon artists grow­ing in both skill and character.

Action points:

  • Never let char­ac­ter issues slide. Many a cre­ative per­son within the church has suf­fered cat­a­strophic falls because char­ac­ter issues have been allowed to per­sist unques­tioned and unat­tended. When this hap­pens, there are three lev­els of fall-​out: The artist them­selves, their fam­ily & friends, and every­one who has ever been touched by their artis­tic craft. Speak the truth in love, and con­tin­u­ally encour­age your artists to walk close to Christ.
  • Many artists are pow­er­fully moti­vated by the con­cept of devel­op­ment of their craft. Ask this pow­er­ful ques­tion: “What is the next step for you cre­atively? Spir­i­tu­ally?”. If it is within your power to pro­vide them with the resources to achieve the next step, do it!
  • Set firm bound­aries for con­duct and clear expec­ta­tions for the role of the art-​form in your con­gre­ga­tions. Whilst this may sound counter-​intuitive, with­out a set of con­straints to guide the cre­ative process, many artists will sim­ply floun­der in unproductivity.

4. Encour­age your artists, both in suc­cess and failure.

In many cases, there is no objec­tive mea­sure­ment of the suc­cess of a cre­ative work, so it is of the utmost impor­tance that we find ways to encour­age our artists, in both suc­cess and failure.

Action points:

  • Hon­our artists for their good work in front of other artists, wher­ever possible.
  • Share sto­ries often of how their art has been used in trans­for­ma­tion, or sto­ries that share of the power of the emo­tional response to their art. Per­sonal sto­ries are best.
  • Bal­ance con­struc­tive crit­i­cism with pos­i­tives. If the artist has failed on this occa­sion, try to find some­thing pos­i­tive to praise – per­haps the under­ly­ing tech­nique, the work ethic, the pas­sion demon­strated, the will­ing­ness to take risks etc.

5. Charge your artists to walk with Christ.

It is of the utmost impor­tance that we encour­age our artists’ con­nec­tion with the church to be more than artis­tic. We need to encour­age con­nec­tion – with you, with the rest of the team, and with Christ!

Action points:

  • Main­tain group devo­tional times in rehearsals.
  • Ask your artists to share what God is teach­ing them.
  • Engage in con­ver­sa­tions with your artists about the spir­i­tual truths behind their art.

A final note to those of you who are involved in uti­liz­ing the cre­ative work of oth­ers in wor­ship. You are the cura­tors of the art-​form, not admin­is­tra­tors of the wor­ship expe­ri­ence. No art gallery cura­tor would dis­play paint­ings or sculp­ture with­out first under­stand­ing both the life of the artist and the nuances of this par­tic­u­lar cre­ative piece. Only then would the cura­tor know how best to dis­play and pro­mote the piece of art. The same is true of us in the church.

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If you take the time (just a few min­utes) to walk deeply with your artists, and to talk to them about their per­spec­tive of the work they have cre­ated, you will be able to use it in much more pow­er­ful ways.