A little design work today for an Alive Media client. This is a for a church’s sermon series artwork.
A little design work today for an Alive Media client. This is a for a church’s sermon series artwork.
Some of the work that my companies do is custom design (both graphic and motion video) projects for churches. We basically come along side as their creative media team to help them develop screen, print and video resources for their message series. I’ll be posting some of those new projects here and there just to share. Here is a recent series that we designed called Heroes. The project called for a comic book feel overall. Below is the main message graphic and the bumper we created.
Let me preface this post by saying that this is in no way meant to be an attempt to tear down church leadership nor is it directed at any church leadership in particular. Rather, this is a post to speak about the reality of being on a church staff, some retrospect in my own journey and to possibly be a voice for some church staff who have and are going through this reality. This Augusta 31st marks one year since my last day (for now) as a vocational church staff member. I’ve had some time over these past 9 months to process my experience as a full time church staff member, and it’s been particularly interesting during that time to view things as now we’re plugged into ministry and our church from a non-staff person’s perspective. Let me say that I believe fully that the local church is God’s Plan A and there is no other plan. I love the local church.
As Kim and I have become small group leaders at our church, it’s been so exciting to be able to meet together with a group of people each week and dig in to the Bible, get to know each other, and slowly be transparent about life….the good and the bad. It’s about being involved in Biblical community. Probably one of the best phrases I’ve heard to describe this is “doing life together.” That’s what small groups and Biblical community should be like. It’s about being real, being authentic and where appropriate, transparent….get the picture?
Now, here’s what I would say from my observation and experience over the years: A lot, if not most, church staff members (and their spouse if married) struggle with “doing life together” in Biblical community and small groups within the church they serve.
Back in August I shared the news here on the blog about a big transition that we were making in our lives as I was stepping out of “vocational ministry”. It was this time last year that we began to actively pray and plan towards our transition, and now, being on the flip side of it a year later, I’ve been thinking some back through that period of time.
If you do a search on “leaving vocational ministry”, you won’t find a whole lot of helpful insights and articles online. There are some, but I guess for one reason or another the topic is just not widely blogged about. One of the gems I did find was written by Ron Edmondson. You can read the full blog post on his blog, but I wanted to share his thoughts on when it is time to leave a ministry position, an organization, a job, etc. Not all of these were applicable to my own situation, but several of them were really helpful to me. Continue reading
I was thrilled when I heard the news that my friend Gary Molander was writing a book. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Gary a number of times on the phone as well as admire his work for several years now. From those experiences I’ve learned that Gary has so much insight and wisdom for creatives that are on church staffs and/or are involved in creative media production and design. His book Pursuing Christ, Creating Art is one of those books that I find hard to put down. Honestly, I think for any church staffing a new creative position, they should be given a mac pro, Final Cut, Adobe Creative Suite and a copy of Gary’s book.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I was in my early 20’s when someone first asked me “Are you planning on being a youth pastor forever?” My response was typically “Well, I think before it’s all said and done, I’ll end up doing a little bit of everything.” I always thought that was an odd question to ask. Not because people don’t stay in student ministry for life, but because following Jesus and belonging to Him means that I didn’t just surrender to an area of ministry, I surrendered to Jesus Christ. At some point He may call us to something that doesn’t look like student ministry. I didn’t realize in my early 20’s how true that would be. I’ve had the privilege of serving in student ministry, church media and a whole lot of different experiences that run the whole gamut of ministry. And now, we’re about to take another turn in the road.
In May of this year, I sat down with Phillip, my pastor, and told him that our season of ministry at Cedar Creek has come to an end. I asked him if he would be willing to work with us through a transition period, and he very graciously agreed. So, that transition period is almost up as my last day as Creative Director at Cedar Creek Church will be August 31st. This wasn’t an easy decision for us, and it came after much prayer, counsel and A LOT of soul searching.
Now, let me just say a few things: Jesus and I are good. My wife and I are good. Cedar Creek and I are good. This has been a process in me that has been developing over the last several years. So, if you’re looking for some juicy details, I got nothing for ya 🙂 While the last several years have been really difficult at times, I think that is the process that God often uses to move us on. If we were always comfortable and content, none of us would change or move.
Here’s what’s up next for us:
Over the last decade plus, I’ve developed 2 businesses that I have operated in addition to my work at Cedar Creek. Alive Media is my web, graphic and video production company that caters to businesses, churches and non profits. 4Thought Media is my company where i develop media (sermon illustrations, video countdowns, motion backgrounds, powerpoint games, and still images) for churches to use in varying ministry settings. I will be launching these businesses into a full time capacity. We will also begin expanding our video production for businesses as well as partnering with churches to serve as a “Creative Team” for churches that may not have that or even to be a creative resource for those that do.
Also, as I’ve been praying over our next steps, the words “leave margin” keep coming to mind. I believe that there is another piece to the puzzle that isn’t fully in focus yet, but as we go along, we are trusting that the Lord will make that clear. I do plan on doing some fill in speaking for pastors and churches that need a break or need a fill in guy, maybe some speaking at student ministry events if that opens up. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, either, but it sounds fun to me.
I did want to publicly say thanks to some people at Cedar Creek that have been a part of my 13 years of ministry there and have made an impact in my life:
Here’s how you can help:
Pray – We really would appreciate your prayers for our family, especially over the next several months. This is a HUGE transition, and we’re leaning in to Christ as much as we know how. Here are some things that we’re praying about that we would invite you to join us in:
1. Clients and the right projects – Obviously we need clients on an ongoing basis (business, church and non profit) to pay the bills, so pray that we would make connections with clients that are a good fit. Also, pray that the Lord would bring out the creativity in us as we develop new scripts, projects and ideas.
2. Partnership – I really see working with a group of people (2 or 3…maybe more) with Alive Media and 4Thought Media to move them both toward becoming a studio of sorts. These people would have to be the right mix of talent, heart and we’d have to work well together. Pray that God would help me make those connections and raise up the right people.
3. House to sell – Right now our house is for sale…a tall order in this market. Pray that we would get a good offer, preferably from a pre-approved buyer.
4. Transition – Pray for each of us the next several months will be a lot of transition. Pray that we will all transition well.
Help us get the word out – The most effective marketing in my opinion is word-of-mouth. If you know someone that is looking for a new website, video production, graphics help, etc., pass my name on to them.
While this is a big step of faith for us, we’re definitely excited about the road ahead. Here we go.
” I was called to full time ministry.” “I was called to go be a missionary.” “I was called to work with students.” You know how it goes right: sitting in a worship service of some sort and the speaker begins to tell their story of when they were called by God to some sort of specific ministry, maybe that first step to trust Jesus, to be a missionary perhaps or to enter full time vocational ministry. Often these stories challenge and encourage me as I see where God has taken them from where they were to where they are now.
Now imagine this: Abraham steps up on the stage at your church and as he begins his story, you hear this: “God called me to wander, to go astray.” Do what? Now, I’ve gone astray in my life, I’ve wandered at times, too. But I gotta admit, that was my own doing though. Tonight I was reading in Genesis and this phrase grabbed me: “And when God had me wander from my father’s household…” (20:13) The original Hebrew actually means to stray, stagger, reeling or lead me astray.
Earlier God did call him to leave his home, his father’s house and go to a place to that God would show him. God didn’t tell him where his destination was, either. In essence, God was saying to Abraham to “start wandering”, and I’ll let you know when you’re there. Yeah, that would totally throw off any “must be in control” tendencies I have. Think about it. From the outside looking in when Abraham got his “Call To Wander” most people must have thought he was loopy, unwise, not using good judgement, etc. How could he just do that when he had a family to provide for and all? So what’s your point, Jonesy?
My point is this:
If you choose to follow Christ fully, there is a possibility, maybe even a certainty, that at some point God will call you to wander.
That’s not comfortable, that doesn’t go down easy, but I believe it to be true. I’m not talking about God leading you to sin or leading you away from Him to pursue an idol. What I mean is that there will be a time where God will call you to wander in pursuit of Him, along with Him, through some places that won’t be fun and at times will be downright hell. I’m not talking about “I’m just feeling kinda spiritually dry”. I’m talking about “I’ve been at this for months, years…when will this season end?” kind of wander.
I don’t have “3 simple happy hops to a better you” to give you on how to deal with it either. Here’s what I do know from experience and from others that have been there: Choose to keep walking and don’t setup camp there. Do whatever it takes to keep feeding on the truth of God from His word, lean in to those that are trustworthy at times and keep walking until He leads you out.
I was reading this morning in Numbers 13 & 14 about the spies that went out to spy on the land before the Israelites invaded the land God had told them to possess. What a great case study on fear, trust and how lies and fear can infect and paralyze a whole community. As I read this story, this thought hit me:
God, help me and my family trust you even when thousands around me choose not to.
“How many does your church run on Sundays?” “So, what size student ministry do you have?” “How big is your church?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question in my ministry years and even how many times I have probably asked this of others. Here’s the rub on asking this question: If your church is running less than theirs, you end up feeling inadequate; if your church is running more than theirs you end up feeling self-righteous. Heard a speaker say one time “There is not a whole lot that can tell you less about what’s going on in a church than that question”. I think there is some truth in that statement.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not wanting to get into a discussion on church growth. Anyone can read the book of Acts and see that the early church GREW. A church that is not growing is in decline, imo….and that’s really the point of asking a different question.
No, the thought that struck me was what if we flipped that script on the question “how many are you running?” and started asking different questions, maybe additional questions. We’ve been going through a message series at Cedar Creek called Chairs. It’s been a vision series with a focus on the idea that the empty chairs that we see around us on Sundays and at HOME group should serve as a visual reminder of who is missing. This past Sunday during Wes‘ message at the West Campus, this thought hit me:
What if we started asking:
“How many empty chairs did we have at our church Sunday?”
How would that shift our focus of what we do? We recently put together some numbers that showed there are approx. 80,000 people in Aiken County that are unreached, that are unchurched and probably don’t know Jesus. How would asking that question shift our focus in reaching them?
Love the look and sound of this series trailer from Crosspoint. Cinematic and “Inception”-like. Nice work.