How Pastors Can Support Artists in Their Church

– [Thomas Terry] I think the first thing
that a pastor can do to support an artist is help to instill the right things
concerning their identity. I think the artists in their church,
the creatives in their church have a really difficult time concerning identity. Their identity is deeply woven
into what they create, what they produce, how they perform. It’s embedded with their
performance on the stage. And so when they come
into the church, oftentimes that performance-based
mentality or that affirmation that is dependent on how good
they perform just rocks them. And so what we have to do as pastors is
help them to see that you are accepted by God, not because of your works,
not because of your performance, not because of how good you are,
not because of the critique or the acclaim that you’ve received as an artist,
but because Christ has died for you. Christ has purchased you. And so you
have to move them from their image being inextricably
connected to their artistry to the person and work of Jesus Christ. And so that’s the first starting point to
help mature the creative in your congregation and support the creative. The second thing I would suggest is to not
exploit the creative gifts of the artist. I think in a lot of ways many creatives
feel a tension with the church because they feel like “I’m only useful because I
contribute gifts to the congregation.” Of course, this just reaffirms that
performance-based mentality which is giving you a very anti-gospel perspective. So what you need to help them do is say,
“We find value in you because you are made in the image of God. And we love you and we
care for you holistically. We don’t just like you because you’re
gifted, we love you because you are a member of our congregation and
so we won’t exploit your gifts. We will help you to cultivate your gifts. We will help you submit your gifts under
the lordship of Christ. We will help you to learn what it means to
use your gifts for the benefit of other people but we will not exploit them for
our own advancement to make our churches look cool and hip and,
you know, beautiful. We will love you for the person that you
are and we will disciple you. We will mentor you. We will give you an appropriate
theological framework to think about your gifts and we will not exploit you.” So yeah. – [Brett McCracken] Do you think some
pastors might think, like, “In order for me to relate to the artist
in my church, I need to, like, become cooler or like learn the music they
like and kind of dialogue on that level.” Is that something that they need to do? Do artists want that from them? Like what are kind of the misconceptions
that pastors might think like, “Man, I have a hard time relating to that
artist, so I need to do this.” Then what should they do? – [Ryan Lister] Yeah. I think, in reality, artists are the first
people to recognize when someone isn’t being genuine. So trying to be something that you aren’t
in front of an artist is already kind of sort of keeping them at arm’s length. So really there’s already something
establishing a relationship between the two of you, if they’re in the church, and
that’s where I would push the relationship between pastor and a creative or a pastor
and an artist. I would center it around the work of
Christ and the gospel in both of your lives. That’s where I would approach them. Yeah. – [Thomas Terry] I think it’s important to
recognize that for the creative, relevance is not as important as
the pastor thinks it is. Authenticity is the thing that
really connects with them. They want honesty. They want you to be you. They want you to embrace
them for who they are. So to be relevant, to somehow
engage with them would actually do a disservice to you. Yeah. – [Ryan Lister] Yeah, and on that point
also, being a pastor doesn’t mean that you have to self-identify as a creative but it
does mean that you should be trying to pursue excellence in
all your pastoral work. So one of the things that will attract a
creative to seeing you as an ally or someone that they can talk to or someone
who will accept your pastoral work is the fact that you are demonstrating,
through the work that you do, creativity, wisdom, that you are applying
beauty to everything that you’re doing in the church. – [Brett McCracken] Yeah,
I think and maybe pastors don’t think of themselves as creatives but really,
like, a pastor is a creative. They are communicating complex, you know,
realities, theology, through formats that are communication and art and creativity. So that’s a good point relating on the
level of wanting to be excellent and how you go about that. – [Thomas Terry] Pastors are storytellers
telling the most important story, the message of the Gospel. – [Ryan Lister] Yeah,
and showing you how to enter in. That’s a creative reality. How do you come into this particular story
that the Lord has told us? – [Brett McCracken] What do you think
about discipleship? How does that look uniquely, kind of,
with the artist, because there’s some unique challenges. Artists are maybe traveling a lot. If they’re musicians, they’re on the road. Sometimes artists just have different
things kind of vying for their attention. What are some unique ways to disciple
those folks in your church? – [Thomas Terry] Well, I think you have to
start with a foundation in terms of your discipleship that says
“You are not your art.” And if you help them to find more value
in who they are in Jesus and who they are in the church, then you’re going to create
a tie between the artist and the church that is really hard to cut off. And so then the artist is going to want to
use his gifts and be in the marketplace using his gifts, but he’s not
going to want to do that autonomously or independent
of the local church. He’s going to feel this tension. I love using my creative gifts to engage
with culture but I love my local church and I feel it when I’m gone. That’s a foundation that has to be
established where you have to help them, you have to cultivate in the heart of an
artist an affection for the local church, an affection for community under God’s
Word so that they long for it, so that they anticipate it and want it
when they’re gone. Because if they don’t have that, then it’s
really going to be insignificant for them. They’re going to find satisfaction in the
pursuit of using their gifts and putting it on display for other people. – [Ryan Lister] Yeah. And just creating practical accountability
structures, accountability structures that aren’t built out of legalism and keeping
you from using your gifts inappropriately but built out of love and pastoral care
for the artist in your church and not only just doing that at a pastoral level but
teaching them to find people in the church that can also come alongside them that can
hold them accountable, that can even go with them from time to
time and those who are still home with the families of the artists,
supporting them too. – [All] Yeah.

2 thoughts on “How Pastors Can Support Artists in Their Church”

  1. The ideas talked about here are mature and deeply good.
    Some of the ideas have overlap with relating to millennials in respect of being tempted to be someone other than yourself.
    Loved the point about being creative in the church! Not for the benefit of artists – for the benefit of everyone.

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