Nothing can replace the energy and insight gained from young leaders who come with fresh perspective and contagious enthusiasm. Willow itself began when a group of young 20-somethings dreamed of a new kind of church that did not yet exist and then made it happen.
If you are young or new to ministry yourself, we’d love to hear about the dreams you are dreaming for the church or for Arts Ministry in the church. What are your wildest hopes for the future? How is your vision of church or the Arts in church different from what you see today?
If you are more established in ministry, what are some of your experiences in including and valuing younger voices? What advice do you have for other leaders as they seek to include and value emerging leaders?
One of our younger voices this summer is one of our awesome interns, Jordan Yancey. She is a part of our Media Team and dreams of one day making a difference in children’s programming on television or in the Church. We asked her to share some of her experiences during the ’07 Arts Conference exploring the breakouts with an all-access pass.
Here are Jordan’s Thoughts…
I am 21 years old, just graduated from the University of Georgia, and I find myself an intern for the WCA with access to almost any breakout session I can make my way to. Amazing, right? My mom seems to think so. She works for a church in Georgia, and as I was making my way around this massive campus my mother kept calling me asking for updates on what I was learning, who I was seeing, and did I get extra copies of everything being given to me to bring back to her? She says I am so lucky to have this experience at such a young age.
I am always interested to learn why people choose to come to Willow Creek to learn about the arts. For some this trip requires a lot of effort in terms of travel, money, and scheduling. Matt, from New York, is here for the first time and he said that sessions like “Copyright Basics” were really helpful. The session’s leader Cheryl was able to give out a lot of important information in an interesting way. I also spoke with Todd, from Kansas, who is happy to be at his first Arts Conference. Todd was really impressed with the knowledge the breakout leaders have and he feels confident that the sessions are going to help strengthen his church’s drama ministry.
I was lucky enough to run into Oliver, who is here from Germany and working with Axis Ministry at Willow Creek. He plans on traveling home to Germany once his internship is over to help start churches focused on reaching out to 18- to 30-year-olds in Munich. Oliver says there are a few aspects of the American worship that he will have to change in order to reach the young adults in Germany. Young Germans expect their worship services to have a spiritual focus that is not emphasized by large productions or Christian rock music. Oliver will have to create more simplified services since large productions create a sense of skepticism and young German adults, “want more than to see a good show. If it gets too big then people get skeptical. They think they are being manipulated.”
Sandra Van Opstal lead a great second breakout session called “Get Cultured: The Curse of the White Suburban Worship Leader.” Her focus was on helping mostly white churches realize the important aspects of their worship culture and how churches can use that knowledge to reach out to the ever-changing communities around them. If you missed the session, but are struggling with diversifying your church, Sandra recommends the book God’s Global Mosaic by Paul-Gordon Chandler.
Kem Meyer did a fantastic job educating her breakout group about the many ways starting a blog can help your church. She credits blogging with creating personal accountability for one’s vision and focus and giving a congregation a way to put some personality behind the faces of the church leadership. Want more information? Kem recommends the book The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch.
A Chinese proverb says that hearing something 500 times is not as good as seeing it once. This principle was made clear in Alex Daye’s breakout “Making an Impression: Developing Continuity of Design through Your Church and Services.” Daye showcased the awesome talent of the Willow Creek Design Team and demonstrated how graphic design can enhance the church experience by visually demonstrating the important things that the church has to say. Graphic arts can help focus people onto the message and engage the congregation in the communication of the church.
Ross Parsley did an amazing job leading the “In the Name of Love: Creating a Safe Place for Artists” breakout. His attitudes about worship are solidly based in scripture, and the impact of hearing what God wants our worship to be and how we can begin to create that environment was really powerful. He attributes the “dead” atmosphere in some churches to a lack of love among the staff and congregation. Parsley believes that love is tangible, visual, and measurable and we need to begin to express love in these ways if we want to create change in our churches.
After experiencing all that the Arts Conference had to offer I’d have to say that my mother is right. Listening to all the different speakers and seeing the hunger to learn on the faces of the people who came to be here I realized just how lucky I really was.
One great thing about the conference is that whether you were able to come or not, you can still experience so much of the great learning by ordering the main sessions and breakouts on CD or MP3 downloads.