developing a culture of creativity part I

I pastor a small Vineyard church in the middle of nowhere Kentucky, but I’m not complaining. When the Southern Baptist university located in our town is in session our church balloons to around 250 people. Summer is another story altogether, at least as far as attendance is concerned. I bring this up because even though we are a small church in a small town we have always been really blessed with artists, musicians, song-writers and creative types. We have always written our own songs and used them for Sunday morning worship. I used to think that we were special and unique – but after being a part of this church for 14 years I realize that there were seeds of freedom planted into the soil-structure of our body that have been strategic in allowing artists and musicians the liberty to participate and flourish.

Here are a few of the really practical things that our church has done over the past 14 years that have engendered a culture of creativity.

Open Doors

We have always had an open-door policy with respect to the church building and the sound equipment. Early on we passed out keys like gmail accounts. Later on we put a lock box on the side of the building – a three digit code give access to the key that gives access to the building. Pretty much everyone who has been to our church more than two months knows the code. This has been a big deal because we have never been professional musicians. Especially early on, when most of the worship band was composed of people in high school who could barely play their respective instruments. The church has been, and continues to be a gathering space for the worship band and musicians to come and practice. Most people do not have a space where they can play their instruments at full volume – and even fewer have a space set up with really great gear! I will occasionally drive by the church at midnight or after to find that some of the young guys from church are jamming away. I love seeing that because I know that means that the hook has been set, and our church will continue be a haven for creativity and something new.

As a side note I would like to say that in 14 years nothing has been stolen, and less than $250.00 of equipment has been broken. In all honesty, I can’t remember anything that has been broken, but I’m sure that something has bit the dust. Now, just because nothing has been stolen or broken doesn’t mean that there haven’t been challenges. Monitor mixes are constantly changed, even though I’ve asked, begged, pleaded and demanded that they be left alone. The stage is usually a wreck and instruments are usually left out. I have spent many a Saturday afternoon cleaning up the stage and resetting the sound board so that things could be ready for the next morning. This really bothered me for years, until one day I realized that this just what it costs to have great musicians, and ultimately spiritual sons and daughters. Now I clean up the stage like my mother used to clean up my room, and I embrace it because it’s a chance for me to serve in creating an atmosphere of creativity and of family.