August 14, 2009 by

The Big Reveal (part 1: The Dream Takes Shape)


Categories: creativity, Things that are too good to keep

For a number of months now, I’ve been teasing and baiting my readers about something BIG coming in my life, dreams my family and I are dreaming, changes happening.

The wait is (almost) over.

I say “almost” because this thing is so BIG that I’m taking more than one post to reveal it. Starting today.

And I say “BIG” because it’s huge for me…it might not be so big for you once you read about it. Just so you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t blow you away. 🙂

I mean…this is my blog, so if it’s huge from my perspective, it’s not really false advertising or anything to call it BIG, even if you don’t end up thinking it’s all that. Right?

{Collective groan} “Oh, come on, Jeff, get ON with it!!”


So I’ve shared in times past about my heart for creativity, and developing creative community. This is a dream my family shares, because for some strange reason we are all creative artists. I’m a writer/songwriter/musician. The Wild One is a creative photographer (and has excelled in any other visual art form she’s tried). And The Director is showing exceptional talent as a screenwriter/director. We didn’t plan a family of artists; we just are one. It was quite a moment for us when we realized that the seeds of creative community are under our own roof.

Having said all that…our journey has essentially detached us from institutional forms of Christianity, and although our heartcry is still to minister the love of Christ…our journey has also deconstructed our mindsets about what ministry is, and what it has to look like. We are learning not to stuff our gifts into a box called “the ministry”, but to let our gifts be the ministry. Plus, the things we’ve learned in recent years about being missional in our approach, and fresh ideas about how “church” can be shaped…all this ties into what is now before us.

What we are dreaming of is a creative community, a collective that is geared toward nurturing and enabling the arts. This could take many forms and express itself in multiple ways; but what we’re currently mulling over is eventually having a space devoted to various artistic efforts, including art shows, live music venues, classes of different sorts, and hopefully even a place for people to just hang out, study, read, eat, drink, talk, or practice their art. This could be a set of store fronts, and even include several functioning businesses. The possibilities are pretty much endless as to how it could look.

But for us, the key ingredient, the heartbeat, is that for it to be a place where believers and non-believers can interact and function together in a non-threatening environment, gathered around a common interest: the arts.

It won’t be “a church”, although THE church (i.e., Christ-followers) will function within it.
It will not be “a ministry”, but ministry will happen within it.

We don’t want to start another “Christian” organization, another attempt to “Christianize” the arts. We don’t intend to hang a Christianese shingle over the door. What we do want to see is a community where people’s gifts are nurtured and encouraged, regardless of their creed; a place where Christ’s love is expressed naturally and sincerely, without all the labels attached, without agenda, person to person, through genuine relationship, as people work and interact and network together.

A place where the gospel is present in deed first, and in word second–lived out by Christ-followers who believe their lives are a bigger witness than their lips.

And…we want it to be a community where some amazing creativity happens!

If what I’m saying sounds a bit ambiguous, it’s because it is difficult to explain or describe something that really has no model, no prototype. Plus, if I’ve learned anything the past few years, it is that we need to let vision be flexible and pliable–because we only know in part. God is revealing this a little at at time.

And one more thing…we also realize that creative community is not something we can just “start”–it is something that needs to be born. Something living, not something invented. Something God breathes into existence.

So rather than go launch some named organization and try to get people to join it…we need to let it form by doing what we do. We’ll name it later. 🙂

To be continued…the BIG stuff is coming up…

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

6 Responses to The Big Reveal (part 1: The Dream Takes Shape)

  1. J. R. Miller

    Awesome bro!

    I started Restoring the Arts about 4 years ago, and we have been active in helping with concerts and community events…

    Check it out


  2. Cynthia

    This is my DREAM!

    I want to have a cultural community center just like you have described. Place for performance art, classes, film viewing and discussion, book clubs, art studios.

    I even want to have a community library where people can "own" a shelf and donate books. It wouldn't be set up with Dewey Decimal style but according to what the person's interest and passion is. So, for instance, someone comes in and is looking for books about birds, I can say, "oh, look at Chris's shelf. He's a birdwatcher." It would be a great way to share resources and get to know those who live in your community.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  3. co_heir

    So, let me get this straight. You're saying that you're not going to have a black velvet painting of Jesus praying in tha garden prominently displayed when you first walk in? And you call yourself a minister? 🙂

    Sounds like a fantastic thing. I'm looking forward to more details.

  4. Jeff McQ

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments, guys…

    Thanks…see part 3 of this series. 🙂

    Thanks for the link. Cool site. How is it going for you there?

    I love, love, love your ideas. It would be amazing to see them come to pass. I'd be interested to know where you're at in the journey, any research you've done or steps you've taken toward it.

    Nope. It's a wood statue of Jesus holding sheep. 🙂 Surrounded by fountains of gold flowing with milk and honey. 😀
    You'll probably get a kick out of this, but at the Christian college I went to, they had this short-hair, no-beard rule for guys. In the library was a set of paintings that were supposed to be Jesus' disciples. All of them were white, had short hair, and were clean shaven–except for Judas. Oh, and one of the disciples bore a striking resemblance to the founder's son. 🙂

  5. J. R. Miller

    Ha.. the site is lame, but it has done the job.

    I have written one grant, put on some concerts, partnered with different arts initiatives in schools, and it has been good.

    The best part, is that passion for art has a commonality between all people, regardless of religion. RTA took away the excuse so many Christians have that, I just don't know any non-Christians and it created opportunittes to build relationship based on an equal standing instead of the all-to-common standing of "me evangelist.. you lost"… I hope that makes sense.

    Anyway, blessings in your move to Denver.

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