For your further reading here is a thought provoking article, by Colin Day from Marshill, on the role of discipleship and being creative. Enjoy…
In Seattle, everybody is creative. Think it’s just a facade? Take it from somebody who grew up near Washington D.C., where it’s common to run into 18-year-old interns in 5-piece suits rushing to get their foot in the door at a stable government job. Compared to D.C., nobody here is rushing to do anything status-quo. In Seattle, we want to give the finger to others’ expectations and build an identity on doing something new. The word “creativity” means so many different things in a city like Seattle. In our context, business people and geeks are creative, along with the usual suspects: designers, actors, musicians, etc… In a basic sense, creativity is an attitude of finding different ways to entertain, challenge, equip, inform, provoke change, and build.
At Mars Hill Church Downtown Seattle, we believe that God is, amongst many other things, the supreme model of creativity. He made the universe and everything in it, and our creativity is modeled after him. How do we bring God glory with the things that we make? The answer is the same for creative people as it is for all Christians: we glorify God by being disciples of his son Jesus. What we create will flow from our identity as his disciples. We’ve been blessed with the ability to think outside the box, but that doesn’t mean we can create some new path to salvation that excludes dependence on Jesus. Whether or not we are creative, our end is the same: bowing to him.
For the first twelve years of my life as a Christian, I thought I was exempt from being dependent on Jesus alone for salvation. I thought that when I looked good as a graphic designer, I made Jesus look good. I had a great job working at a reputable design company that provided me all the ego stroking I needed. No matter what church I was a part of, I was sought out by leadership to work on design projects. While I was often asked for work, I was rarely pursued for a dynamic relationship that involved both my creativity and my walk with Jesus. I developed a talent for saying “no” to everyone at church because I was too busy feeding my ego at work.
When the church pursued me to do creative projects for them, I unknowingly faced a common, false dichotomy that disconnects service for the church from discipleship. I still hear people talk about these things as though they exist on different planes: “I get my discipleship at Community Group, and my service happens in the ______________ team.” When I was frolicking in my sin, nobody was pursuing my heart and my abilities at the same time. They were always two disconnected things.
In Acts 18, we meet a preacher named Apollos who is described as “an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures…fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.” Two disciples named Priscilla and Aquilla were impressed, but: “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” They could see his raw talent, but they knew that God had more for him as a disciple of Jesus. They encouraged him in both areas. Maybe this makes sense because Apollos was a preacher, but why would creative discipleship look any different? Why would we address the hands and the heart separately? The creative process, with all of the giving and receiving of feedback, is perfectly suited for Christian discipleship. What a creative person makes with their hands reflects the state of their heart–whether they believe in truth or lies.
In my case, it took a long time until a few brothers in the church came alongside to disciple me in both areas of my life. It coincided with God forcing confessions out of my mouth of what I had been hiding from everyone: a prideful insistence on trying to save myself and look good in front of everyone. By God’s grace, I now get to lead the creative ministry at Mars Hill Downtown, along with Cam Huxford and Jeff Bettger. It’s no coincidence that the three of us have similar stories of worshipping the gift of creativity instead of the gift-giver. We see the need for all creative people to be discipled by engaging their work, and this is a task that’s too big for the three of us alone. The whole creative community is involved in this discipleship through service teams and community groups that meet throughout the week. We’re experiencing that this approach produces disciples of Jesus who are joyfully free to create work that glorifies him. It’s because the gospel produces freedom, and sets disciples on a mission to glorify God in that freedom.
Written by Colin Day, Marshill Church, USA