Good News for Creativity

“What is the good news for the group of people you are reaching?”

In April of this year our staff went to the Exponential Conference for church planting in Orlando, FL, and one of the speakers brought up this question. She talked about the need to learn the language of people and communicate the good news [gospel] of Jesus to them in a way that they will understand in their hearts. Of course, my mind immediately went to what the good news is for those we’re reaching through the Creativity Group at Everyday Church.

The “good” news is a value judgment, so how do we value creativity as a society?

We value creativity as personal expression. Talking to other improvisors, I often ask people why they do it, and the answer I hear often is: “I need a creative outlet.” In other words, they are not able to express fully who they are as a person in their work and daily life. I think that the creative process indeed has a vital role in helping us unearth who we truly are. The person who says, “I have to act. I have to organize. I have to write code.” There is something inside of them that must be expressed for them to be a whole person. The only problem with this is the finiteness of humanity. We are able to express ourselves, but only to the extent of our own lives. And even if by some chance our creative endeavors endure well beyond our lives, life itself will ultimately end with no eternal meaning. The creative process is therefore limited.

The good news of Jesus magnifies this idea to eternal proportions! It says that creativity is something that God himself put into us when he created us. It is part of the image of God. Look at Genesis 1:27:

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Let me highlight that verse in a different way:

So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Jesus himself was a creative person. His ministry was filled with illustrations, stories, teachings, and miracles exploding with creativity. We are not just a fleeting people with fleeting creative desires. God has given us each creative potential that he wants us to discover and express. The creative process is part of discovering who God created us to be. And in the end we don’t care so much about what creativity says about us as much as what it says about the eternal creator. This is what we call giving glory to God, the ultimate creator.

We also value creativity as a means to an end. We are able to make money through creativity. It improves our systems, our thinking, and our society. We become more efficient. We’re able to more fully understand abstract ideas as well as one another. We’re able to find new ways of living together (hopefully for the good of all). Finding one’s value in creativity can backfire when it is contingent upon producing something that is judged by others. Now it is not just about expression, but about what we get out of it based on what others think, whether it is money, love, recognition, significance, etc. In doing so, creativity looses its beauty, and becomes limited as only a means to an end.

Again, the good news of Jesus magnifies this to eternal proportions. Creating is something that God has commanded us to do. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. – Genesis 1:28. This requires great creativity. The good news says that creativity is not only a means to an end, but that it will continue throughout eternity. Not only that, but the Jesus says that we are valued far beyond our creative potential. Jesus himself lived the perfect life we could never live, died the death we should have died, and gives us a new life that we don’t deserve. We are therefore free to create, knowing where our true value lies. It is not a means to our being recognized, happy, validated, or fulfilled. We have eternal worth outside of our creative potential. Therefore we are free to be creative to even greater potential!

In the end, the good news of Jesus frees us from the judgment of ourselves and others. He gives us an eternal perspective, and blesses us to create in his image, the ultimate creator.

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Good News for Creativity

Apparently I Suck at Vision-Casting

I have been told on several occasions that I will suck at vision-casting. A church planting assessment told me that vision-casting was a weakness, so I would not make a good senior pastor or lead planter. I have taken the tests and scored low. I’m not the charismatic, futurist, idea-person. I thought for years that I must suck at vision-casting.

I recently realized that it’s all BS. In the process of launching a new missional community to champion creativity in our neighborhood, I put together a compelling vision for the group. I met with potential leaders and walked through the vision. Everyone saw the vision, got excited, and joined the cause. I cast vision, and I did a great job!

Here are my thoughts on all this. First of all, you can get better at stuff. When I took evaluations, it was almost totally based on questionnaires and personality instead of actually doing it. Over the past few years I have read books about vision casting, seen others do it well, and tried it out in dozens of small ways. So maybe I am not the charismatic, futurist, idea-person, but I can learn new skills! Second, assessments and gift-tests are helpful and important, but they aren’t everything. Especially if you believe in God! He can empower people with gifts that they normally do not have. God is able to do more through people than they would be able without him.

The next time you take an assessment of your gifts, your skills, you spiritual gifts take them with a grain of salt and remember:
1) They aren’t definitive. You change and grow throughout you life.
2) God can do more than you can imagine in & through you! He can give you new gifts. He can empower weak ones.

In my last post, I talked about needing to have a compelling vision and plan before a passion can become reality. Below is the vision that I shared to launch the Everyday Creativity Group:


The Vision
I envision a group of people at Everyday Church who champion creativity for the glory of God whether it be in our neighborhood, our schools, our church, or our city. They believe that creativity lies within everyone, and they want to draw it out. All of us are created in the image of God, the ultimate creator. Therefore all of us have creative potential just waiting to be discovered to bring glory to God. Humanity has always been in the business of creating – culture, art, music, family, poetry, organization, dance, you name it.

Why “Creativity” Group?
It’s not just about art or artists; it’s about creativity. When we say “art” I think it makes us think of “my art” or “your art” or “the arts.” Those things are all included, but it’s not about just those things. It’s about creativity, however that might look (I also like how creativity is a long word with lots of syllables that makes you slow down and think about it).

Why start this (what will it look like)?
1) To reach artists who move uptown & don’t know anyone
–  I named  a few people who had already experienced this at Everyday, including me!
2) To reach Christian artists who have no Christian community with other artists
–  Again, I named a few people who had already experienced this at Everyday.
3) To reach people who are artists but have no outlet or medium for their art (adults or kids)
–  Art workshops for in local schools
–  Photo walks in the neighborhood
–  Art galleries
4) To help artists give back to their community (beautification)
–  Paint a mural in the neighborhood
–  Benefit concerts/shows for local schools, organizations, ministries
5) To champion creativity within Everyday Church
–  Teaching service elements (videos, props, music, décor, etc)
–  Having Everyday people get involved with our events

(At this point, people usually started sharing more and more and more ideas)

Why now?
If we don’t start this group now, I believe that eventually a group similar will emerge formally or informally. Our church is full of creative people looking for a community. The main reason we’re doing it now is because I believe that God is calling me to do it.

What will be done to get it started?
It will start with the leadership team. Our meetings will be focused on discipleship and practicing the mission of championing creativity together (living it out). We will steadily draw others to join us in our mission and eventually grow to launch as an Everyday Group.


I shared this vision along with a tentative timeline with a number of people and asked them to be a part of a leadership team to launch the new group. Six people said yes. The seven of us met to dream, pray & plan for four months. We learned to listen to God’s voice, pray for our friends to get involved, and lead this new group. This past Sunday we launched the Everyday Creativity Group with over twenty people in the mix. I’m excited to see where God will take us. But none of it would have been possible if I had not refined and cast a compelling vision. Passion isn’t enough. Mission isn’t enough. You have to cast a compelling vision.

Apparently I Suck at Vision-Casting

All I Have is a Mission

In a few weeks, I’ll be launching a new Everyday Group (missional community) at Everyday Church. When I felt like God was first calling me to start this a few months ago, it’s clear that passion was not the only ingredient I needed. I wrote the following on January 25th:

A few weeks ago I realized that a mission is all I have. I’ve been dreaming about a new Everyday Group in Inwood/Washington Heights that would be focused on artists for months. I’ve mentioned it to a few people with mostly the response of, “that sounds cool!” and not much else. I even intentionally focused my life to be more on mission and connect with artists. After a while I got pretty discouraged that no one else was really rallying around what I was doing. Mission is hard to accomplish all by yourself! How was an Everyday Group of 20+ people focused on a mission together ever going to form from this?!?

Today as confronted to brutal facts, I realized that all I have is a mission. A mission by itself is not enough to build community. What I’m missing is a compelling picture of what the new Everyday Group could be. This involves vision (a picture of the future) as well as a plan (a pathway for how to get to the vision).

Anyone can be passionate about something on the hearts, or even that God has called them to do. Having a compelling vision coupled with a plan to make it happen is a completely different experience. Have you ever had a passionate dream to start something, but eventually realized that you lacked either vision or a plan?

All I Have is a Mission

Launching with a Leadership Team

It’s the invisible necessity of missional communities. It’s a pipeline for current and future leaders. It’s what makes missional communities possible.

It’s a small group of  leaders (4-8) being discipled together by their huddle leader, usually as they lead a missional community together. “Huddle” is the term that 3DM uses, but I just call it a leadership team. It is a safe place where leaders can be challenged in their walk with Jesus. It’s is where leaders are poured into. I didn’t say that this is where I do leadership development. I do that. But it’s about helping them become closer followers of Jesus, not just leaders.

In a few weeks, we’ll be launching a new Everyday Group (or EG, our name for Missional Communities) that is focused on championing creativity in our neighborhood. As the future group leader, I started by recruiting a special leadership team. We have been meeting about every other week for the past 4 months to grow as disciples, clarify the vision, and try out the mission before inviting others to join us. Once we launch and invite others to join us as a legit Everyday Group, we’ll have a number of leaders ready to lead and disciple the group. When I think of trying to launch a group with 20 people on board (the minimum amount of people needed to start EG), I don’t know how I would have done it without starting with a leadership team.
(Actually, all of this sounds exactly like what you do when you plant a church: Find a planter, build the launch team, pour the vision into them, make sure all of the bases are covered, and launch a public service)

Here are the halmarks of a leadership team for me:

1) Relationship. The EG leader recruits everyone personally. There is an on-going relationship that will deepen as the team grows together. We share deep, often personal stuff with one another, so committed relationship is key.

2) Intentionality.  The team focuses both on launching/leading an Everyday Group as leaders and on each person’s walk with Jesus. Both of these must have equal weight. It is easy to fall into just one, but both are desperately needed. (This way of thinking is known as “invitation and challenge.” 3Dm has a great article where can learn more about it here)

3) Community. The team is leading together. As a team, they can share celebrations and challenges together that they wouldn’t be able to share with others in their group. These celebrations/challenges could be focused on leadership or on discipleship.

4) Process. The team provides a place where leaders can process both what God is doing in their personal lives and what God is doing in the MC they lead. The MC is the place where anyone in the church can receive training, “trying out” living for Jesus. The primary questions we ask in our leadership team meetings is: What is God saying to you right now? and What are you going to do about it? Both of those questions deal with leadership & discipleship issues and deserve a space for processing.

If launching a new Everyday Group were all up to me, it would mostly likely fail. But with a solid leadership teamin place, I am extremely expectant to what God will do through us. And beyond this group, I look forward to when those who are on the team today will be leading their own teams to launch their own EGs in the future.

Launching with a Leadership Team

The Language of Spiritual Balance

Live like Jesus.

I never realized it before, but every church has their own way of saying the same thing about spiritual balance – living like Jesus. When I started making a list, I was shocked!

Up, In, Out (3DM)
With Jesus, In Community, On Mission (Southland Christian)
Trust God, Love People, Serve the World (Forefront NYC)
Faith, Love, Hope (Mosaic CA)
Celebrate, Connect, Contribute (Community Christian)
Discover, Connect, Serve (Trader’s Point Christian)
Love God, Love People (many churches)UpInOutTriangle
Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk humbly (Micah 6:8)

Every church is saying the same thing. They just use different language. I like to think of each aspect as a relationship. The key is finding the right balance in all three.

We must constantly ask of our church, our ministry, and our lives: “Which relationship needs attention?” We will always have seasons where we need  to focus on one relationship over the others. When churches are not intentional about evaluating their ministry by all three relationships, they almost always default to doing well with two:
– A church that cares for insiders and has strong teaching, but where outsiders are not as welcomed.
– A church that is evangelistic and loving, but with shallow theology.
– A church that has strong teaching and focuses on evangelism, but has a hard time building true community.

Currently Everyday Church is in the process of starting to use “Up, In, & Out” to help us find balance. I also really like the sound of living “With Jesus, In Community, On Mission.”

How does your church say it, and what are some ways you keep balance?

The Language of Spiritual Balance