Multiplication Center

Yearn for the Sea: Multisite Artist Development

March 1, 2013

This week we launched our first InnovationLab for Multisite Artist Development at Leadership Network.  Five great teams spent 27 hours together in Dallas to begin this 12-month voyage.  Each team came with its own story, vision, challenges and opportunities.  They left with new relationships, shared learnings, and clear direction on next steps toward a more effective artist development model.

In addition to the Leadership Network team, participants were served by three outstanding resources: 

Rory Noland (writer, speaker, and consultant to artists and church leaders) spoke with teams regarding heart care and the spiritual development of artists.

Michael Neale (writer, performer, storyteller, and Artist in Resident at Christ Fellowship) presented ideas and inspiration around bringing artist together in community, helping them develop their craft, and releasing them to influence culture.

Stephen Brewster (Creative Arts Pastor at talked through creative team development and the eight “flavors” needed on your team.

Critical Success Factors for Artist Development
One of the conversations during the week centered around critical success factors for multisite artist development.  Regardless of what your model looks like, there are some common ingredients that are necessary for success.  These include:

  • Vision-Minded – Michael Neale shared a quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders.  Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”  Artists are attracted to vision and passion, particularly if it connects with their own.  In your creative arts ministry, cast a clear vision of and communicate deep passion for the “why” of what you do.
  • People Driven – At the end of the day, music ministry (or any other type of creative arts ministry) isn’t about music, it is about people.  With weekend deadlines, multiple services, and tight production schedules, its easy to forget that, as a leader, your number one task is to engage, empower, develop, grow, and release artists.  How are you making relationships a priority?  Can you be more intentional with your time during the week and on weekends to connect with your artists?
  • Creative Environments – Original, creative art, whether music, spoken word, or visual art, cannot develop on demand.  If you want your artists to truly create, there must be space and time set aside for ideas to be born, developed, and collide with other creative ideas.  What spaces do you have set aside for artists to dabble in their craft and create?
  • Clear Expectations – If you have conflict, low engagement, or poor quality in your ministry, it could be due to unclear expectations.  We often don’t communicate expectations as clearly as we think we do.  The curse of knowledge causes us to forget what its like to ‘not know’.  Have you objectified and published expectations for your artists?
  • Constants – Much like the artist expectations mentioned above, a creative arts ministry in a multisite environment must have clearly defined constants across all campuses to ensure that standards of quality and the church’s DNA are preserved at all locations.  What are the non-negotiables for the ministry? What things must be in alignment at all sites?
  • “Fly Zones” – Just as important as constants are the established “fly zones” in a creative arts ministry.  Where are your teams given room to express themselves?  Too much structure smothers original art and drives artists away.  How do you balance alignment and freedom across all sites?

Several other factors were discussed, but these represent some of the ‘sticky’ ideas that made their way into the teams’ strategic plans.

More Learnings to Come!
I will continue to share ideas, ‘ahas’, and plans from this group in the weeks and months ahead.  I anticipate great things ahead as these churches expand in multisite and in artist development in order to bring people who are far from God near to Him.

What About You?
What are you learning about artist development in a multisite context?  What factors are critical to the success of your ministry?  What ongoing challenges or questions do you have?  Please add to the conversation in the comments below.

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