It’s becoming increasingly popular for artists and creatives to leave the church in search of deeper fulfillment. But why? What is it about the local church that is failing to capture the attention of this generation? Why are so many leaving the church? Why is serving the local church not capturing the imagination of our young musicians, writers, dancers, painters, and videographers?
It’s not about the money. We already know that creatives aren’t just looking for the biggest paycheck. They crave, more than anything else, to do work that matters – to have freedom to create.
While I’ve seen this problem in action, I’ve also seen the contrary. I can’t tell you how many of my “artsy” friends are becoming worship leaders and church planters and missionaries. They are encountering God in a special way and sensing a call to ministry. They are discovering themselves as leaders – leaders who make disciples, reproduce themselves, and send others out.
How exciting is that?
If you are pastor, this is what you want to see. But you may need to change your ways in order to capture the imagination of artists. Those of us who are church leaders have a responsibility. Reaching the lost has always involved the arts – meeting people where they are and speaking a language they understand – missional and incarnational. But moreso than any point in history, artistic expression will serve to reach people with the Gospel in the future. Today, people don’t want to be talked at. They crave a conversation.
Today, people don’t just want facts. They want to enter into a story worth dying for.
The Gospel carries that power. But what are you doing to engage the Gospel in your unique culture? Are you raising up artists in your midst or shuffling them out the door? Are you welcoming those you don’t understand – those who seem a little weird? Believe it or not, they may be your best missionaries to your city.
What can you do?
I can think of 5 tips:
1. Don’t try and tame them - often what seems the most outlandish, weird, and contrary is really a great idea waiting to happen. Bring them into your inner circle and let their imagination soar. This type of trust will mean the world to them.
2. Share your vision - if you have a vision worth dying for (and if you’re part of the local church you do!), share it. If you are not envisioning the next generation with the glory of the Gospel, the problem is not with the Gospel, it’s with you! The next generation will want give their lives for the greatest cause on earth. They crave making a difference. They breathe social justice. Share your vision and share it often.
3. Root them in the Gospel - the only creative limitation you should enforce is the Gospel. Methods will change but the message stays the same. Many young creatives have heard the Gospel, but they aren’t yet on fire for it. Root them there.
4. Use them in your services - have you looked at your stage recently? Sure you have. You’re a pastor. But how many young people are up there? If you want to capture the imagination of young creatives, use young creatives. Let them create and share their art within your services. Release them to make art that reflects the beauty and wonder of the Gospel.
5. Embrace the transience - Sometimes they leave because it’s just the name of the game. They don’t hate you and they don’t hate your church. They’re simply called elsewhere. Adopt a ministry philosophy of raising up and releasing people. They know their generation and they are desperately wanting to connect and influence and see change.
David Santistevan is a worship leader and blogger at davidsantistevan.com. He recently wrote an ebook for worship leaders and pastors called, Beyond Sunday: A Step-by-Step Guide To Creating And Sustaining A Vision For Your Worship Team. Go pick it up for FREE. Originally posted January 17, 2012.