Don't Quit on the Church
In the last couple weeks I have received several emails and tweets from church creatives telling me how frustrated they are with their creative roles at their churches. Some were even on the verge of quitting.
This caused me to think through this question: why is it so hard for us creatives to fit in at church? Well, some of it is our unrealistic expectations. But, I believe the biggest issue is that the church doesn’t know how to embrace creatives well.
The church has come to consider art and design as non-utilitarian roles, which causes people without gifting in leadership, teaching, or music to mostly not have a place. I believe that many talented, well-meaning creatives often leave the church for three main reasons: (1) pay, (2) creative fulfillment, or (3) lack of appreciation. Those talented people end up working for well-known brands and become very successful (which is great!). Consequently, the arts in our churches have been mediocre at best in recent decades.
If you are on the verge of quitting your creative role in the church, here are a few words:
You Are Valuable
Whether your church recognizes it or not, you are of great value. The same way a preacher uses metaphors to communicate ideas, you get to use art and design to communicate those same ideas, sometimes, in even more powerful ways.
God didn’t waste his time giving you a gift that doesn’t matter. Knowing where your gifting comes from adds the greatest value to what you do. When you have a correct theology of work and understand how we are all meant to nourish and cultivate society, a distinct sense of calling arises.
God gave you the unique ability of turning ugly things into beautiful things. A gift that provides pleasure through visual engagement, just so you can nourish the culture that surrounds you. He could have given you some other gift, but he didn’t! THAT should give you all the self value you need!
Let Your Calling Drive You
I know this sounds easier said than done but let your calling drive you, not how well your work is received by people.
Whether the church admits it or not, she needs people like you. Why? Because we artists, care deeply about something God cares about as well.
Don’t Stop Caring
“In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, verse 17, Paul directs, "Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches."
Here Paul uses two religiously freighted words to describe ordinary work. Elsewhere, Paul has spoken of God calling people into a saving relationship with him, and assigning them spiritual gifts to do ministry and build up the Christian community. Paul uses the same two words here when he says what every Christian should remain in the work God "assigned to him, and to which God has called him." Yet Paul is not referring in this case to church ministries, but to common social and economic tasks––"secular jobs," we might say– and naming them God's callings and assignments.
The implication is clear: just as God equips Christians for building up the Body of Christ, so he also equips all people with talents and gifts for various kinds of work, for the purpose of building up the human community."
–Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor, pg 54-55
All work is God-honoring. So if you want to quit your church job, there is nothing wrong with that. But PLEASE don’t stop caring for the church.
Every mature Christian, should devote some of their time serving and equipping their home church.
Jesus doesn’t need you, but the church does.
I understand you are burned out, underpaid, and under-appreciated but if you are going to quit, quit the paycheck, not on the church.