Friday, 15 March 2013

Behind the scenes: with the creative arts team

It’s 10.54pm on a Sunday night and somewhere in between dragging around an in-design layout for the next church magazine and thumbing through my rather tatty bible looking for a theme for this issue, inspiration has struck. Deepest waters, rivers, oceans, the sea, cast sins into the sea( Mic 7: 19), peace like a river (Is.48:18), even if I settle on the far side of the sea, there your hand will guide me (Ps 139),.…I am on a thematic quest, diving between verses, chapters, books and squashed up pages, unfolding metaphors large and small( and aquatic apparently).
It is perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this ministry, coordinating a creative arts team that serves our church, the challenge to navigate the gap between the written word and the visual, the idea and the metaphor, symbol, gesture, poem, all colour and light and flavour that is woven through or can be used to express it. The challenge to ever hope to precipitate even just a moment that expresses a millimetre of the abundantly creative God we serve. 

But I am sure for many, what we do is probably a bit of a mystery. 
Like lots of ministries.
In the interest of peaking your interest I thought I would take you though, for a little dip behind the scenes( oh no you didn’t -yes I promise more water-y puns to come), to uncover it’s much more paper, pens, ridiculous ideas and email chains than berets, easels and philosophy.

We meet as a team every 2 weeks, often around a messy table of snacks and art supplies, where we share an agenda that stretches from the next sermon series topic- ideas for artwork, performance, video, working with Stella- our amazing communications manager, planning projects in collaboration with other teams to promote their events and ministry, to tangentially discussing how much we would totally rock an artists studio caravan in the church parking lot, with an astroturf garden and a coffee cart window at the back.  We think out loud, we thumb through scriptures, we have thinking music and lots of scrawly paper that translates a myriad of wonderful ideas into a smaller number of actual tasks and a growing list of one-day-when projects. We pray a lot because mostly we are doing things we have never done before and have no clue if they will work out. And then we have workshops and project sessions - excursions for footage into the city, making objects into typography and photographing them, storyboarding videos, mass producing installation objects, trying to engineer structures that will actually hang them in record time, excursions to bunnings, lots of drilling, painting or on occasion just strolling around a stage posturing over the perfect intonation for a line.
Not many of us are professional artists, a few most certainly, but for the most part we learn along the way whatever it is we need to make happen the thing which we have imagined doing.
We are often more ambitious than we should probably be, but that keeps us praying harder and relying on God in his mercy and providence to make this pathetic human gesture into something that can be used for his purposes. It’s a pretty great place to be.  We believe greatly in the power of creative arts to facilitate learning, outreach, community building, and just to bring joy and beauty. What can I say, it is the best! We would love for new people to join who feel passionately about the potential of this area. And even more so we would be blessed to have you on board as a contractor, full time member or occasional volunteer if you have any experience in the arts.*  

But back to that magazine, Micah 7: 19 has won out for space on the first page, and the lyrics of a song playing in the background seem like they offer what we are looking for on the front cover, “grace abounds in deepest waters”. Yes. There are still many hours left to navigate on this  project but it seems to be sailing smoothly.  And all going well you get to see it in print next weekend! 

*You can find out about joining the creative arts team at


  1. Thank you so much for this post. It's a great insight into the team and also into the creative process itself. I have an affinity with your work as I compose songs and music for the church. I'm wondering whether there is some way we could work together on some projects?

    Peter D

    1. Thanks Pete. ( and thanks for keeping the conversation rolling on the blog! ) We are always so keen to work with musos and composers. We try to use original scores for videos at church where possible if that sounds of interest, often Chen shares his stuff with us. Would be really great to work with you too!