Home > Church, Cultural Musings > spotlight: sojourn writers guild

spotlight: sojourn writers guild

Do you, as a church, actively encourage the creative gifting of the members of your church?

Do you have a lady, or group of ladies in your church, who have gifts in design and aesthetics?  Do you have a man, or a couple of them, who excel at craftsmanship and demonstrate great skill in the wood shop?

Does your church really encourage these people and affirm them in their gifting? Or do you just give them a call when you need table centerpieces for a banquet or a new door put in a wall?

Oftentimes in the church, creative gifts and artistic skills are relegated to the back burner . . . the back burner that is across the parking lot on the harvest gold stove top in the youth room kitchen.

We treat these people as vessels of dishonorable use, rather than vessels of honorable use – until a work day comes around.  We need to abolish the second-hand status of the creative members of the Body.

I think that the good folks at Sojourn Community Church do an amazing job of blessing and empowering their creative people to use their gifts for the edification of the body – and that’s why I wanted to put the spotlight on them for you:

book reading

This Saturday, January 17th, a guild of Sojourn writers will be meeting at the 930 from 9:00-11:00 AM to *[edit] the drafts of several children’s books that we hope to publish within the next year.  Our hope is to do books on the gospel message, our gospel identity as a church, the gospel life and biblical manhood and womanhood. Please pray that the Lord will guide and direct our time this Saturday.

While reflecting and preparing for the writer’s guild, I came across a great piece by Moonbeam Award winner Sally Lloyd-Jones.   She quotes Caldecott Award winner Paul O. Zelinsky.  Here are his words about how a great picture book works followed by her comments:

“In any good picture book, words and pictures complement each other, each of them necessary and neither sufficient.”

Lloyd-Jones comments:

“Working on picture books, you must check your ego at the door. At least if you want a good picture book.  It’s what one of my publishers calls, “Breaking through The Author Barrier”: where you suddenly find that what you’re most concerned with is not keeping all of your words, but making the best book. Even if that means, as Faulkner said, murdering “your darlings.” Those pieces of text you are so fond of and think are so wonderful and the very apex of your literary skill usually are the very things that must go. Because in order to keep them you make everything else work around them and end up forcing things. And that, as far as I can tell, never works in books and stories anymore than it does in life.”

May the Lord bless us on Saturday with the kind of humility that checks our egos at the door.  May the gospel go forth because of our efforts.

What an incredible way to draw upon the talents of creatively gifted individuals in the church – I love it.  Why don’t more churches love, serve, and help artistic members use their gifts for the sake of the rest of the body?

It shouldn’t matter if you are a small church, a country church, or a church that simply has a shortage of individuals with “professional talent”.  You may never be able to write a children’s book that will be published, a song that would sell on iTunes, or a piece of art that anybody would hang over their mantelpiece – but that’s not really the point.

The point is that God has gifted different members of his body differently, all for the sake of his glory and the blessing of his church.  So even if all the church can muster is a group of women who love to sew and knit, or a group of men who can do wonders with a mitre saw, encourage them to intentionally and freely use those gifts that God has given to them.

Plus, who knows, with a little sage advise and the help of great resources (like Sally Llyod-Jones’ quote above), your church may play a key role in training up a truly great artist, writer, or songwriter of the future.

* the word “edit” was added because I think it was dropped from the original text.

Link: ‘SojournKids Writers’ Guild

. . . . . . .

Why is it that so many churches overlook the God-given gift of beauty and artistry?  What impact has the abandonment of the arts by the churches of the West had on art?  Where have all the artists gone, if they are not welcome to “be an artist” within the church?

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  1. Brandon
    January 14, 2009 at 10:36 am

    “You may never be able to write a children’s book that will be published, a song that would sell on iTunes, or a piece of art that anybody would hang over their mantelpiece – but that’s not really the point.”

    Good word. Really good.

    As to the “why” behind overlooking people’s artistic giftedness, I’ll speak as one who has (until the last two years) always overlooked those gifts. I used to think of them as “lesser” gifts. Sure it’s neat to have good music around, but when it came down to it, I valued teaching and preaching gifts to the point that I was willing to toss all the other gifts. Big mistake on my part.

    The effect it had on me was that I lost wonder and imagination for a good while. I had no desire to create anything or appreciate beautiful things that others had created. I felt dry. I still battle that.

    Anyway, my two cents.

  2. olivia
    January 14, 2009 at 11:07 am

    It has been interesting to take Arts in Western Civilization this Jterm and see how committed these ancient people were to their belief systems. Just looking at the mosaics and gothic cathedrals you know these people were extremely committed to the church. They used art to learn, express, and teach knowledge of their God. Why have we seemed to lose that sort of committment? The covers of their Bibles were so beautiful that you couldn’t deny how much it meant to them. Interesting to think about,
    . anyway those are just my two cents as well :)

  3. nateandhan
    January 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I agree. Great spotlight. God, our Creator has created us with minds that creative. We, as the Church, should cultivate these creative talents.

  4. MR
    January 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I want you to know that I was just reading about this on their site yesterday, not having seen it on your blog yet. Love it. And solid points. Let’s see Jackson incoporate those…

    Also, concerning the post a few days back (because regardless of what you now think, I do not read the Wilson blog daily), I’ll go ahead and assure myself that I fall under the “friends” you’re addressing rather than the “blog stalkers.”

    C’mon now, Lee…I thought all of that was straightened out. Plus, you started it.

    Bravo on all of the hard work. Little Abbey will be so thankful.

  5. leewilson7170
    January 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    good. rest assured. that is definitely the right thing to do.

    and yes, i started it, it’s true. i will take the heat for that.

    stalk friend away!

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