Over the past few weeks, my worship team has been reading The HD Leader by Derwin Gray. The book speaks about building multiethnic churches and embracing diversity. According to the book, a homogeneous church is one that is made up of 80 percent or more of the same ethnicity. Ring any bells? I certainly grew up in a church that was homogenous. Every Sunday we had a full-on production: big choir, praise and worship team, a loud and passionate preacher, and it wasn’t church without a b3 Hammond organ. My church experience shaped my perception of what worship was “supposed” to look and sound like. It was what I was comfortable with, and for a long time, it was all I knew. I moved to Nashville, the music mecca, a few years after college and my perception of worship and church began to change as I was exposed to new styles and sounds. But just as fast as I was learning new sounds, my walls went up even faster to defend the sound I knew and loved. I was quick to become defensive when I’d hear from other people that the worship style I was used to was not “true worship” because it was too busy, or too loud, or too distracting. However, at the same time, it helped me realize that homogenous churches have…
Many who are very creative deal with this thing called sensitivity. It means that there sometimes is a thought, experience or encounter that most people easily forget that stays fresh in the mind of a creative. The ability to relive an event in full color can bring forth an amazing song or powerful painting. But, both the pleasure and the pain can be a trap to the creative if not leveraged properly. Perhaps, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) inflicts more of us than others for the same reason. If the event was positive, then disappointment of current reality could lead to depression. Worse, the most painful moments in life fade slowly, leaving an open wound in need of healing. The healing process for a creative then is a bit different–because creatives truly are, differnt. Where others may cope by refocusing on a new activity, the creative is trapped, stuck, obsessed. So, my personal experience as a sensitive and creative as well as my work with many of the same has taught me a few things. These are five ways I think we can leverage sensitivity. Letting go needs a ceremony. Long after the world has moved beyond using they Papyrus font, you have to move ahead with the times. But, it may be you need to have a party to mark the move. When you realize…
There are two types of creativity needed as humans. We have presented issues that need addressing and to be creative in this case mean people work to solve what needs to be solved. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Things that are “needed” get the resources, the cash, the spotlight. This is true in our spiritual leadership, as well. Culturally, we are locked into a love affair with making things “work” which is not entirely a bad thing. The problem comes when the other leg of creativity is neglected and even denounced. You see, aesthetics are hard to justify as expenditures when your only vision of creativity is one of utility. This modernist thinking clashes with our souls, yet we still in our leadership worship “what works.”
I have some questions for you my friends and readers out there. The reason I have been blogging for so long–almost 9 years now–is the dialog with real people. I have prepared sermons, found places to visit and changed my thinking because of the encounters I have had with you. This topic is for us “creatives” out there.
As a church communications director, I have learned over the years that people respond to stories better than information. As a speaker, I know this is true. In fact, the Bible is almost three-fourths narrative. Jesus used stories as his teaching, almost exclusively. Why is it then that we look at announcements as just announcements? My proposition is that announcements are invitations to join in the larger story of God’s work in our church and the world. Are we thinking too small of our announcements in worship?
Greg Johnson of On Being Human has been busy lately. Besides his band, Greg and his bandmates work on movie and TV soundtracks, produce artists (even people like me), and have been known to cover a video game tune or two. Murrieta, California has few as talented and creative when it comes to the professional music field.
It could be that the idea of creative planning is an oxymoron. After all, does not creativity come from problems to solve? The possibly worst idea, however, is that creativity is simply utility. Task is often coldly machine-like. Creativity, when it is truly firing on all cylinders, is magic.
There are mechanical, technical tasks in creative endeavors–as is true in any endeavor. The difference is that what drives creativity is the substance of dreams. The more dreaming about the possible pervades a team, the freer the flow of envisioning how that dream can become a building, an experience, or a song.
Many spend hours preparing their presentation, their set list of music, or the communication video reel each week only to succumb to the terrible, habitual blank canvass panic. This “blank canvass panic” (or BCP) experience raises your blood pressure and catalyzes the acidic wash inside your stomach. This is the empty page, the blank screen, the note-less and rhythmless song. Likely, you will recover. But, deadlines head toward you like a freight train on a mission.
I have put below ten strategies to help us creatives through the BCP. Better than breathing into a paper bag or bingeing on ice cream are some methods to calm the madness of your creative storm, Some anxiety should be celebrated and leveraged, but the tsunami production output is calling your name.
The power of collaboration has been evident throughout the ages. And I feel like more and more I’m experiencing how dynamic collaboration with kindred creative’s can be. And when you connect at the core with another gifted artist, and God provides the spark…there’s no ceiling.
There is something about singing that defies explanation, but I will try my best. I have been a professional vocalist since I fronted a jazz big band at age 16. In my bow tie and tuxedo, the power to mist the eyes of older people at a car auction while singing “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” changed me. And, I saw the glee of couples kicking up their heels and staring at each other’s eyes when singing “Fly Me to The Moon” which in those days, profoundly impressing my younger self. In high school, our singing sextet won national awards each year I was in the group. The hours of practices that began punctually at 6:30 AM each day paid off. The long recording sessions in a studio made of egg crates using the earliest digital 8-track recording painfully pulled us into first place often. In art, there is usually is an act of creation. With singing, every time you open your mouth you create a moment. A painting will last, revisited often. But, to sing something in front of others “live” means that it will pass into nothingness once the moment ceases. For a moment there is something created that will last only in memory. This act of creation can be powerful to shape us and our listeners for a couple reasons…