The Art of Digitally-Engaged Ministry

by | Mar 12, 2017 | Digital, summit

Do you remember junior high art classes? They usually wanted everyone to get at least a base of knowledge and skill when it came to creative arts. While it wasn’t all that long ago that I was there, things have changed already, of course, and class options like AutoCAD drawing, Intro to Photoshop, and even Coding 101 are happening in early elementary school. But we had art – regular old art class.

And I was terrible. My mom still has a piece I made in her kitchen. I’m not actually sure what it was supposed to be, but that misshapen form of kiln-blasted clay has been holding toothpicks for years.

What I didn’t realize until recently is that my ineptitude in said class settled a lie in me. I wasn’t creative. I had no skill, no talent, no vision for the artistic or abstract. I didn’t have what it took. “Oh well,” said my junior high boy self. “Who cares anyway? That’s not important to me and I’m never going to draw or sculpt for a living.”

It turns out that was actually a lie of creational identity. The truth is we’ve been created, and we’ve got that Spirit within us. We’ve got art in us. We’ve got creativity in us, by design. (I’ve been on a throwback Jars of Clay kick lately and remembered a song called just that, “Art in Me”. Give it a listen if you’ve got three minutes and 58 seconds.) And this lie stunted me. It held me back and it took years to recover creativity in my soul and in my vocation.

These are the the kinds of things that hold the church and its leaders back from taking ministry to where people are connecting in deep and authentic ways, from behind their screens. Seem like an oxymoron? I hear you, and we’ll talk about that at the Summit. When we think about digital engagement, we don’t think we can go there, and we don’t know where to start. We’re convinced that we either don’t have the skills as a staff and/or volunteer team, we don’t have the time to add another thing, or we don’t have the “expertise” it takes to engage digitally.

Guess what? It doesn’t take an expert to engage well in digital space. (Friends in my Church Communications Facebook Group are sharpening their pitchforks right now, most of them communications or design professionals at churches or other organizations.)

You and your fellow leaders have what it takes to bring your ministry to people on the street corners of your town and the unexplored margins of Instagram. You already have what you need – a few basic art supplies, if you will.

  1. Inspiration. Every artist needs a muse. You’ve got that – you’ve got a clear call from The Artist in Residence of life.
  2. A medium. You need permission to be passionate and focused. We’ll spend time talking about how digital space should not be a separate ministry area at any church, but integrated into what you’re already working on. Pick a medium – a way you are going to go about doing what you do.
  3. A blank slate. Your team of leaders and volunteers has what it takes to creatively connect with people where they are. We’ll discuss the key digital and social platforms that offer us this space.
  4. Raw Materials. These are the moldable, shapeable lives of those in and around our faith communities we connect with – sometimes in physical space, sometimes digital, and often both. They make the masterpiece.
  5. Your hands. Isn’t that what we say? God’s work, our hands? That’s what it takes – dig in, try something so that you can learn something, scrap that lump of clay, and try again.

A masterpiece has layers, and that’s what the world is like these days. Physical gatherings and digital engagement are layered and connected. We’ll take time on Day 3 of the Summit to do three things: talk about how these ideas matter for ministry today, design some experiences that you can take back and apply right away, and launch you toward your next steps in faith-forming digital engagement for your community.

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