Multiplication Center

How Multisite Churches Develop Artists

November 16, 2012

One of the challenges for growing multisite churches is developing talent and teams to meet the needs of additional campuses.  Relying on teams that are already serving at one location can work in a pinch, but doing so over the long term can lead to diminished performance at both campuses and, ultimately, staff and volunteer burnout.

This is especially true for worship arts teams that have a significant presence throughout the weekend experience.  Add in multiple services at each location and the situation becomes increasingly complex and critical.  So how do churches manage this well?

Churches that Do Artist Development Well
Over the past several weeks I’ve had the privilege of speaking with numerous worship arts pastors and directors, independent artists, and coaches/consultants regarding this topic.  It has been great to discuss the opportunities, challenges and tensions that exist within the world of artist development for multisite churches.  While there is a great amount of variety in how churches approach artist development, there are some common practices that emerged from my conversations that I want to highlight here.

  • Focus on Relationships.  Churches that excel in the area of artist development are intentional about nurturing relationships with and fostering community among creatives.  These churches place a priority on understanding artists’ passions and struggles, as well as pouring back into their lives, and they are always looking for fresh ways to build community among artists in their church and in the community.  The result?  Engaged artists.  “When you’re pouring into people and you’re inviting them to help you tell the story, its hard to say ‘no’ to that as an artist.” (Sam Mahlstadt, author of Creative Theology)
  • Manage the Intersections.  Leaders that value artist development see themselves as “curators” of the artistic talent in their churches.   They mine, harness, and celebrate the talent that is present, creating opportunities for art and ministry to intersect.  These churches make the time and space for artists to share their perspectives on what they, as a church, are trying to accomplish.  Recognizing that good art takes time, these leaders use the natural rhythms of the year to plan and coordinate in advance. 
  • Care for the Artist, Not Just the Art.  Churches that excel in artist development help artists find their identity in Christ.  If they find security in who they are, they will be able to operate comfortably in any context.  “When they are comfortable in their own ‘skin’, that is a great release of creativity.” (Pete James, Worship Director and recording artist,
  • Recognize that the Stage May not Be the Ultimate Goal.  Churches with a strong desire to develop artists know that not every artist is called by God to perform on the weekend stage.  They realize that many are called to have an influence on the surrounding culture through their art.  Therefore, these churches pay attention to the “creative pockets” in their communities and develop artists to be influencers there.

Join the Conversation
Over the next couple of weeks I will share more on the challenges and tensions that are present in multisite artist development.  I would love for you to join in the conversation.  What are you doing to develop artists in your church?  How are your creatives impacting your church and influencing culture?  What challenges are your facing with regard to artist development in multisite?  What are the ‘big questions’ you’re trying to answer?

Update: You can read the follow up articles here:

The Challenges of Developing Artists in Multisite

Finding Balance in Multisite Artist Development

If developing artists in multisite is a priority for your church, you may want to consider joining our upcoming Multisite Artist Development InnovationLab that launches February 25-26 in Dallas.  For more information, click on the link below.

Learn More About the Mulitisite Artist Development Innovationlab

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