When my first daughter went away to college I gave her a gift when we left her in her dorm room. It was a journal—but not just any journal. It was a “mistake journal.” I told her that each night before she went to bed, she should write down three mistakes she made that day. I said that as long as she was going to write them down, she might as well write down the big ones.
Then, after recording them, she should take that journal, slip it under her pillow or onto her bedside table, and fall asleep knowing that the Earth was still spinning on its axis, God was still in control and loving her, and tomorrow was another day. While I’m not advocating mistakes for the sake of mistakes, there is something very powerful about dispelling fear by realizing that your mistakes are not stronger than God’s love for you.
Nancy Ortberg, Looking for God : An Unexpected Journey through Tattoos, Tofu and Pronouns ...
“What derails or stifles creativity in your community and how do you overcome it?”
Creativity. New ideas. Fresh expressions of worship. These are just a few regular expectations when we sit around a table facing our friends and colleagues, hoping to plan an upcoming Sunday service.
Last month in EQ[U]IP we asked you, “What derails or stifles creativity in your community and how do you overcome it?” Here is a little of what we heard …
The pressure to always be “on”—the demand to be creative week in and week out—can have a stifling effect on the community. You told us you overcome this by talking about it as a team to try to keep your expectations realistic.
Some of you told us that this pressure is often self-imposed. We heard that you have learned to be okay with not always having a new idea. You recognize that there are times when it feels like you are in a desert. That’s a part of reality. So, you keep feeding your mind, heart and soul. God is always faithful. He always provides. So you practice patience.
One person told us that sometimes in an effort to “not stifle creativity” they are given the freedom to do anything. They told us that this freedom can actually feel limiting. When this is the case, they self-impose limits: “I’ll pick one color, one type of music, or focus on one of the five senses.” They said these guidelines, these boundaries, provide a direction and the fount of creativity begins flowing.
Sometimes a person or person(s) in the room can stifle creativity. We’ve all experienced that. The person who doesn’t get the idea of brainstorming. The person who’s sharp or careless with their words about others’ ideas. The individual who keeps saying, “We don’t do things that way.” What are those people doing around the table? We are serious about that—what are they doing around the table? Finding the right people, building a team that works well together, respects and values each other is essential. Set clear expectations and guidelines for meetings and processes. Talk about how best to work together. Some people are most creative in a group and others do their best dreaming when they are alone. Figure out a way to bring out the best of all those involved. Talk about how to give and receive feedback.
We would love to know what the rest of you are thinking. How do you overcome obstacles to creativity? ...
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/28/2008 01:46:00 PM
As we meet with artists and leaders we frequently hear them ask for direction in how to build a strong foundation of faith and a solid relationship with Christ. Artists serving in the local church want to know how to grow as personal worshipers of God. It is all too easy for us to focus on deadlines, rehearsal and services. It is all to frequent for worship to be something we do for a few hours of week and not how we live.
We want to give you a resource that would help you and your teams grow as personal worshipers. We are thrilled that Rory Noland and Zondervan agreed to share Chapter One of The Worshiping Artist. This is a fantastic spiritual formation tool, written with the artist in mind.
Click here to get this week’s free download.
To learn more about this resource visit ServiceBuilder.
Rory Noland is the director of Heart of the Artist Ministries, an organization dedicated to serving artists in the church. Rory is the author of The Heart of the Artist: a Character-Building Guide for You and Your Ministry Team, Thriving as an Artist in the Church: Hope and Help for You and Your Ministry Team, and his latest book The Worshiping Artist: Equipping You and Your Ministry Team to Lead Others in Worship all published by Zondervan. Rory leads worship for the Transforming Center, a ministry that cares for the souls of pastors, and he also serves as Pastor of Worship at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Rory will be one of our teachers at ARISE, this year’s arts conference. He will be presenting the following breakouts for artists and leaders: Building and Leading a Music Ministry, How to Prepare Spiritually to Lead Others in Worship, and Navigating Current Trends and Controversies in Worship. ...
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/25/2008 09:08:00 PM
I had the opportunity last night to lead our first of five Good Friday services (4 of them today). We framed this one hour service as a memorial service for Jesus, a time to remember Him through reflection, communion, and music. The focal point of the service leading up to the meal of remembrance was a time to think through what our lives would be like if it weren’t for Jesus. First we heard a powerful piece of three stories interwoven from actual first century characters including the rich young ruler, one of the ten lepers, and the woman caught in adultery. Then a brief video recorded comments from our congregation who were asked, “How would your life be different if it weren’t for Jesus?”
I reflected deeply on that question in order to lead our community in an exercise where they could write down their own thoughts and give thanks. I know my life would be vastly different if it weren’t for Jesus, even though I came to faith at the young age of seven. While I most likely would not have become a notorious criminal or make headlines with my sin, my character would be marked by self-absorption, pride, and lack of genuine love. I know this is true, because I see the darkness of my sin when I’m not walking closely with Christ. And even though given my culture and education I might have achieved something in the eyes of others, it’s those late at night questions that would plague me, wondering what it all adds up to in the end. I keep thinking that most of all, I would know a profound emptiness.
On this Good Friday, I simply want to say that I love Jesus. He is the foundation for absolutely everything in my life. My path without him is unimaginable to me. This is a day when I am choosing to be sober minded, to be quiet and reflective, to lead our services with a spirit of gratitude. There will come a time, in just a couple days, for raucous celebration. But for today, I will mourn and thank my Savior for suffering on my behalf, for finishing the job down to the last detail.
During the post-Easter week, our family will enjoy a vacation together, perhaps the last Spring Break we’ll have in common once my daughter goes to college next Fall. My blog will be silent until the first week of April…so let me wish you a significant Good Friday and a joy-filled Easter....
Posted by Nancy Beach at 3/21/2008 11:09:00 AM
Father, it is a humbling thing to be died for. On this day let me remember that Jesus Christ, Your Son, did exactly that for me. And He went to His death knowing full well how often I would forget His love.
Let no pride keep me from kneeling at the foot of that Cross.
In the name of Jesus my Savior I pray.
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/21/2008 10:01:00 AM
We are thrilled that Gilles Ste-Croix, from Cirque Du Soleil, has accepted our invitation to ARISE. In one of the main sessions on the first day of the arts conference, Nancy Beach will interview Ste-Croix about the creative processes that has formed their innovative experiences.
Two decades ago, Gilles was one of a small group of artists and street performers who gave birth to a new creative form. This combination of circus acts and street entertainment, featuring wild costumes, magical lighting, and original music is now known worldwide as Cirque du Soleil. Vice-President of Creation and New Project Development, Gilles served as the driving force behind LOVE, the new Cirque show based on the music of The Beatles. Our team had the privilege of experiencing this amazing show this past February.
Watch the ARISE site for more details in the coming weeks. The Early Bird registration has been extended until April 8, check it out! ...
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/20/2008 08:11:00 AM
Darkness and light. Despair and hope. Defeat and victory. Sadness and jubilation. Death and life. These are the contrasts of Holy Week, of the short stretch of time between Thursday night and Sunday morning, between the tragic events of Good Friday and the glorious celebration of Easter. For a Christian, this is one of the most profound, emotional, and certainly foundational weeks of our faith. Every year I look forward to experiencing two parts of the week, and to even physically entering into the two dimensions with a contrast of fasting and feasting, with quiet reflection and sober gratitude leading to freedom and joy.
As church leaders, we have the privilege and responsibility, I think, to guide our communities of faith through two distinct experiences. For Easter is not the full and complete proclamation of grace without the mourning that comes with Good Friday. This year, I will be pastoring our five Good Friday services. For an hour, we will reflect on the sacrifices made by our Savior in a kind of memorial service. We will choose to remember. And to give thanks. We will eat together the meal of remembrance through communion. Our team is preparing an experience that will allow our congregation to breathe, to confess, to reflect, and to mourn. With candlelight, the music of the cello, the words of Scripture, and an interactive exercise, we hope to give space and room and atmosphere for appropriate sadness.
Then our Easter services will provide for the release of joy worthy of an empty tomb and the hope of resurrection. Visually we will experience a different kind of beauty – full of color and delight and wonder. Musically we will rock the house. And Bill will deliver a message that lifts the spirits toward the God of second chances and the dawn of new light. I love these contrasts!
Whatever your part in Holy Week, I hope you will enter into the entire experience - two distinct dimensions of our faith. If you are helping to serve at your church in any way, thank you for doing your part to usher your community into the wonders of this week. This is a holy calling, and a week to treasure. And may you personally feel the contrasts as well, as you privately carve out a few moments to mourn and a few moments to dance… ...
Posted by Nancy Beach at 3/19/2008 01:43:00 PM
Two week ago Sunday, March 2, we received an unexpected early morning phone call. My husband’s mother had passed away.
Mom was 88 years old. Her health had been declining for the past few years. Her body needed to rest. Though we will miss greatly, we are glad she has found that rest.
As you might imagine, that week was very full. There were plans to be made and details to be attended to. There were not many moments where mind had an opportunity to wander but at one point it did.
I thought about how grateful I am to the local church. I have family and friends all over the country and I am so glad for God’s gift of the church.
I am grateful that there are churches where my friends and family can explore who God is and the plan He has for their life. I am thankful that each week there is a place that offers hope and speaks words of truth and grace. I am grateful that once they have decided to follow God, there is a place where they can learn, grow and find community. I am so glad that when they go through valleys that they will find others who will bring comfort, hope and direction. I am so grateful that there are places for them to learn that God desires to spend eternity with them and that He has made a way.
Praise God for the local church!...
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/16/2008 09:46:00 PM
I’ve been reading lately in the book of Hebrews, and was struck by a phrase in chapter 12 that says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” How amazing that God has actually defined a race for us, and it is our race to run, and not the runner next to us! Why do we find it so necessary to be concerned about another person’s pace, instead of focusing on the lane marked out for us and the unique calling God has made on our lives?
When I run indoors (during the terrible Chicago winters) at the local YMCA, there are three lanes with the walkers and slower folks using the inside lane and the rabbits on the far outside lane. I’m usually in the middle. But I laugh at how sometimes I turn it into some kind of competition, taking pride when I pass any runners or walkers – even those who are elderly or, to my shame, learning disabled! Then I get passed by a person with about 1% body fat who is clearly training for some kind of marathon or high school track race. And I am humbled. I think the best plan would be to simply focus on my lane, on running the best I can, and celebrating those speedsters and the slower folks for doing the best they can.
Run your race well, and I will attempt to run mine well. Let’s not waste energy comparing ourselves to others in ministry, to other churches, to other leaders. I keep holding on to the truth that one day I will only be asked to answer for how I persevered in the only race I was asked to run. That is quite enough challenge for me. How about you?...
Posted by Nancy Beach at 3/13/2008 02:19:00 PM
I’m back home from England, and deeply grateful for what God did during my week of teaching there. In two different cities, I led one-day workshops – one for women in church leadership, and one for arts and worship leaders. With the 300 women who gathered in St. Albans, outside of London, I was definitely out of my comfort zone a bit because I’m not used to spending time only with females for an entire day! The Holy Spirit knit us together from the start, and we enjoyed lots of interactive moments identifying with one another’s stories and urging one another to steward the gifts God gave us without excuses, tentativeness, or lack of passion. With all my heart, I wanted to remind these women that no mistake was made in heaven when they were given gifts of leadership or teaching. From their comments and questions, I could see that their situations and challenges are quite similar to those of women in American churches. And after both groups laughed at my Chicago accent and grew accustomed to my openness, we had a great time together. The arts and worship leaders also raised identical concerns to those I hear frequently in the States, and I was refreshed by having those days filled with 50% men!
God also gave me the gift of an early taste of Spring, as the daffodils and blossoming trees are already in full bloom in England. For a person like me who thrives on the beauty of creation as my primary pathway to God, seeing flowers and feeling sunshine (which I honestly did not expect over there) was healing. Of course, when I landed in Chicago Sunday it was cloudy and snowing – but I’m choosing to trust Spring really will come.
Mostly, I’m content to be home…though my daughters accumulated mountains of laundry and the e-mails felt a bit overwhelming. There really is nothing quite like the familiarity of home and the three most welcoming faces on the planet for me – my husband Warren and daughters Sam and Jo. I thank the Lord for the privilege of sharing learnings in faraway places, and also for the lump in my throat when the plane touches down and I know that in a matter of minutes I will be back HOME. What a beautiful word…...
Posted by Nancy Beach at 3/12/2008 10:48:00 AM
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/12/2008 09:00:00 AM
On Sunday I’m heading over to England for four one-day workshops. Half of the workshops are for arts and worship leaders, and the other half are for women in church leadership. I have gone to the UK in the past to teach about the arts, but never about women in leadership. To my surprise, the workshops for women will be larger than the others, which obviously reveals a strong felt need from that audience. I look forward to discovering what we have in common, and what is different for both arts leaders and women in churches over there. My hosts will be Graeme Paris, the wonderful leader of the Willow Creek Association UK, and his delightful wife, Helen.
Meanwhile, my husband is serving in Africa for two weeks. When we had to be away from our daughters during their toddler and grammar school years, they would cry and plead with us not to go. My how things have changed! At this point, I feel like I’m being nudged out the door. Hopefully they will miss us at least a little bit…
I am not taking along my computer, as much as that may shock you. So there will be no blog postings for about 8 days, and then I’ll try to report back what God did among the Brits and in my heart.
Bless you all in this first week of March, and may Spring come very, very, very soon…...
Posted by Nancy Beach at 3/01/2008 09:13:00 PM
NCC was recognized as one of the 25 Most Innovative Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2007. The vision of NCC is to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the metro D.C. area. NCC also owns and operates the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill.
In our featured breakout track, Mark is presenting Snakes and Doves. Harmless as doves. Shrewd as snakes. The combination of dovelike authenticity and snakelike creativity is the key to leadership effectiveness. This breakout will challenge your motives. Are you doing the right things for the right reasons? And it will stretch your imagination. There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet! Come discover new ways of redeeming technology and culture to incarnate the gospel message.
In our track for teaching pastors, Mark is talking about Right Brain Teaching. The greatest truths ought to be communicated in the most unforgettable ways. This breakout will help unleash your right-brain creativity and capture the imagination of listeners. You will learn how to exegete culture, brand sermon series, produce video illustrations, and brainstorm big ideas.
Watch the ARISE site for more details in the coming weeks. There is still space available, register by March 25 to receive the Early Bird rate.
Posted by Pam Howell at 3/01/2008 07:53:00 PM