FEB 9// CREATIVITY AND MINISTRY

DAY 40// https://twothousandfourteen.wordpress.com

 

I have literally written this post three times. In my notebook as I was planning it out, I wrote “Creativity OUTLINE (final chance)”. So I give myself no choice. This version will be the posted version. Done.

Let’s get right into it. You probably know by the title that this post is on Creativity. What can be so difficult about that? (Actually, that’s a silly question. Any creative person is usually super crazy and not very stable, to be honest.) The thing that has been eating at me for the last few years is the question of, “How can I be a true Christian while being truly creative?” I think most Christian artists wrestle with this question.

After writing this post, I’ve found that I really have no solid answers. Be prepared that this is not going to be an enlightening read, most likely. It’s just a down-to-earth, real struggle that I have as a Christian. So know, if you have the same struggle, you are not alone.

It’s interesting. My dad (who is a motion picture animator) has never really talked about struggling with this as a Christian. And he went to one of the most “sinful” schools in his day (and married a girl who went to John Macarthur’s school, pretty ironic). Why in the world has this never bugged him? I honestly think it has to do with the fact that he grew up in a little bit of a different time. Today, I’ve had friends outright tell me to “Be careful, honey,” when I say that if I were to become a recording artist, I wouldn’t want to work in the Contemporary Christian Music industry. You might be squirming, just thinking about it, and really, I don’t blame you, I did too. Heck, I still do. A couple of times, I’ve told customers at LifeWay (I work there) that I want to be a musician and they audibly assume that I’ll be a Christian musician. Someone related to me told me he’ll vote for me in the Dove Awards (which blessed my heart, to be completely honest). There is this assumption, at least in the music realm, that every Christian who is gifted artistically should and will work in the Christian industry, not the secular one. And if anyone of us chooses the secular realm over the Christian one, we’ll end up like Katy Perry.

But I have a different bone to pick with Katy Perry. I don’t see true art in her music (actually, I have specific reasons {based on some insider’s knowledge} to lead me to that conclusion). And this problem is the same one I have with some Christian musicians (we’re purely talking music here). Of course, there are several exceptions to the rule, but do you honestly see true musical creativity in most of the big name CCM artists? How many of them can actually sing live well? How many of them use new words in their lyrics rather than “Lead me to the cross,” and “My heart is on fire for You,” and “Refine me with fire, Lord lead me higher,” and “Rain your mercy down on me,” and well, you get the picture. While there is nothing wrong with these lyrics, um, read some old hymns. You’ll be blown away at the artistry and poetry and awe that is contained in a single line in one of those works of art. Sure, there are dozens of Pop Musicians who fit this bill just as well, but honestly, I see much more creativity in the Popular music of today than I do in the Contemporary Christian music of today.

Today, I went to coffee with my absolute best friend and partner in crime, Kendra. I've gotten a little tired of fancy, so I went with comfy skinnies and a warm textured sweater.

Today (Friday), I went to coffee with my absolute best friend and partner in crime, Kendra. I’ve gotten a little tired of fancy, so I went with comfy skinnies and a warm textured sweater. Oh yeah, and fuzzy socks. Those are kind of my life right now.

So yes, I am comparing Katy Perry to Mandisa (sorry, gurl). I would venture to say that both of them are making more money off of an image and good marketing than they are on a skill that they will never stop developing (like a true artist should). One image includes cupcakes indecently placed on her person and the other includes talking about staying pure, but which one is worse? Read this quote by Tozer>>

The grosser manifestations of these sins–egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion–are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.  >>A. W. Tozer

Just one of those days.

Just one of those days.

That’s my real problem with many Contemporary Christian artists (really anyone who is selling something in the Christian retail realm) (yes, I work at LifeWay). They are making their living off of Christ, essentially. Claiming to be in ministry, the money they make comes from those people they are supposedly “ministering to”. Think about it>> Did Paul even ask for money from the people he ministered to? Actually, he did the complete opposite and prided himself on the fact that he had a profession separate from ministry so he didn’t have to trespass on the hospitality of the people he was serving. The “ministry” of the Contemporary Christian industry is not pure ministry in some sense. Marketing and publicity, I don’t believe, should be an essential part of ministry like it has become in the Contemporary Christian Music industry. I’m all for strategic ministry, completely for it. But only strategy when that strategy doesn’t include competing for an audience’s attention and money. Sorry, but there it is.

She's a great poser.

She’s a great poser.

Two things. First, I don’t believe that any of the Christian artists that have become popular have a wrong attitude. Most of them are doing what they are doing in order to serve God and love people. Their hearts, at least from what they say, are definitely in the right place. I’m just not too sure about where we’ve come with the whole Christian Music industry and how much money it is making those people who work in it.

Second, in some sense, I believe that marketing and creativity and Christianity should mix because maybe that’s what will get people’s attention. As a Christian and as a creator, and frankly, as a marketer, my goal is to become the best I can possibly be at my skill simply because I am a Christian. Does that mean I make my faith public and in a sense, “sell” it? God has given me these gifts and it is my job to grow and use them. So, as you can see, I’m torn.

If you're wondering, no, we didn't plan it.

If you’re wondering, no, we didn’t plan it.

I’ve always had a very special respect for pastors who have a profession outside of preparing sermons. Those who support their families with something other than ministry makes their ministry very obviously from their heart. In this day and age, I have no problem with pastors receiving a salary from their church, it’s a certain hospitable thing we should do. But you get the idea; ministry from the heart and the pocket means more than ministry from a transaction.

I really meant to talk to the point of how to be a Christian in the church, but I think that could be its own post. I’ll end with this:

My desire as an artist and a Christian is threefold>>

one. The money I make off of my creativity will not be because of what I say about Christ and what I believe.

two. I will constantly push myself to be a better artist (post on this to come later).

three. Honoring God in my skill and hard work will be of utmost importance. This is what people will see, whether they are Christian or otherwise. What I believe can be between me and my God and within personal relationships with other people. That personal relationships part is singular to me. If you are called to preach to masses of people, by all means, don’t just keep it to those people you have a personal relationship with.

In all honesty, I’m still struggling through these concepts a little. I probably always will. Creativity is intoxicating for me and gives me a sense of power. But it’s also the gift God has given me, and since I have the opportunity to grow this gift, I am obligated to do so. Make sense?

I haven’t arrived at any black and white conclusion. What I do with my life might be different than what a Christian musician does with hers. In fact, it probably will be. I want to be down to earth with you and tell you that I’m struggling. Very obviously struggling, and if you are too, that’s okay. Pray about it, search out some answers from the Bible and people who have gone before you. Your calling may be judged by people in the Church who think they know something. Don’t be shaken. Bring it before God and He will help you to make the right decisions. He might not tell you what to do, but He’ll help.

And remember, our life here on earth is short. Very short. As creators, we must remember that our successes mean nothing unless they are for the glory of God.

Going back to work.

 

I hope this post made you think a little. It made me think all week, and I probably won’t stop thinking about it for a very long time. Please comment below your thoughts about this topic. I’d absolutely love to hear them!

By the way, I want to know what you guys think of my whole thing I’ve been doing with writing a post, but then putting pictures of my day in there as well. Let me know!

Follow me on all my social media!

Facebook        Instagram        Twitter        Pinterest        Google +        Tumblr

LOVE;

{/\ubry}

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Hey, thanks for the post! (Couldn’t work out how to comment before, but I think I just worked it out 🙂 ). They’re good thoughts. Today I’m reading through 1 Corinthians 9 and I think it has a lot to say about this – in v14 Paul says “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

    So I think ministers who are serving God full time should be paid. And I’m not sure that it’s wrong for Christian artists to be paid either, but Paul also says (v12b):
    “But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”

    I think your motivation is right – keep praying and thinking it through and I’ll try to remember to keep praying for you as you do that.
    Thanks for posting!

    Like

  2. Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment! It’s been a little crazy around here.

    I really appreciate your thoughts! And thanks for the verses. I definitely think that ministers should be paid, no doubt about that, especially after reading 1 Corinthians 9.

    I’ll probably end up doing another post on this topic in the future, but I’ve been thinking more about it and I have come to the conclusion that it really should be more based on personal conviction whether a musician goes “Christian” or “secular”. I believe there are dangers and temptations in both areas, but also much possibility to honor God in both areas as well. Just in different ways.

    Thanks again for your insights!

    Aubry

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s