What an encouraging letter from a passionate young man:
I recently attended the Willow Creek Arts Conference. Walking into that place is amazing. For the first time I sensed a clear calling from God, one I have never felt before. I finally saw that it was O.K. to be a creative artistic person in the church. I saw that you could be totally into cool creative things in the church and be a technical artist that served God full time. So I have been praying that God use me. I pray that God makes his path for me clear and that I can serve his will through the talents he has given me.
So I have a bit of a problem you might say. I have a burning desire for technical arts, movie making, drama, lighting, computer graphics, animation, etc... I recently picked up your book Pop Goes the Church and can identify with you 100%. I have always felt the need for church to move into modern times. So between your book and the Willow Arts conference, I have tried returning to our church to encourage them to try some new things. I am being met with quite a bit of resistance. The reasons are both financial as well as the "well we're not sure that would go over real well." kind of answers.
I want to light a fire in the church. I want to become the Willow Creek or Granger of [our area]. How do you start? What steps do you take to begin the journey from here to there?
Any suggestions you might know would be great. I am just trying to serve the best I can in the calling I feel God has made to me.
I believe his frustration is as much personal as it is with his local church. Here are some thoughts I shared with him...
I loved reading your story. What a great path you are on! It's amazing how being exposed to something new (like you were at the Willow Arts conference) will put your mind and life on a new trajectory. Suddenly, you see things completely differently, through a whole new perspective!
Pursue your dreams! If God has wired you to be a creative/technical person and that is what makes your heart beat fast -- then keep learning as much as you can and pursue the opportunities God puts in front of you. I have found that almost every creative person working on a church staff started off as an amazing volunteer.
Pick up Hybels' book called Holy Discontent -- he talks about how often God is working through the frustrations in your spirit to put you on a new path, or to help you start a new thing or follow His direction in some way. I would press into that discontent.
Share all of this with your pastor or one of your leaders. Let them know this new burden you have. Get their counsel on good next steps for you. The people around you will best know your strengths and weaknesses and potential. Find someone who knows you well and also believes in you, and have them help you figure it out.
Don't have too high of expectations of your church. They are where they are. I think it is great to pray for them, help expose them and talk to them, but when the leaders make it clear that they are not going to go in the direction you are pressing...then that's okay. Hebrews 13:17 says follow your leaders "so their work will be a joy, not a burden." God may want YOU to go in a different direction, but not necessarily the church where you are currently serving.
Attend the Innovate Conference at Granger that takes place in September -- and bring some friends with you. If you can swing it, pay the way for your pastor or one of your leaders to attend with you. Watch their eyes be opened in the same way yours were at Willow. If you come, I’d love to meet you. Please look me up.
What else would you have said?