Are you or your ministry team feeling stuck? Maybe you’re facing a developmental hurdle. This blog is intended to normalize the challenges you may be facing and to spark creativity in the steps you choose to take.
Early life developmental changes occur at an unparalleled pace. From birth to age five, a child’s brain develops more than any other time in life. Unfortunately for the child, this period of early development comes with long stretches of unavoidable disequilibrium. Thankfully, as the child is able to implement the new skills and understanding that come with these growing pains, the impact of what they’re able to accomplish is easily seen.
Similarly, for RYFO, the Novo ministry to musicians, our first five years of existence were marked by rapid developmental changes, including a great deal of personnel turnover and competing visions for how to advance our calling and mission. By God’s grace, these early years of our development pressured us to respond creatively to the challenges we came up against. God led us through the growing pains of “early childhood” to the place we find ourselves today—positioned to serve as a catalyst for a global gospel movement of hope among musicians.
When RYFO joined Novo five years into our existence, there was this resounding sense of being home. What I didn’t know then, but has since become quite clear, is the unspoken shared commitment among Novo missionaries to not only be sent around the world to spread the good news of Jesus, but to do so with creative lenses that respond to shifts in culture and to the movement of the Spirit. In Novo, our team found ourselves at home with a band of creative missionaries.
God has continued to lead our team through developmental changes since joining Novo, and I’ve chosen three areas to share with you. In each area we’ve applied ourselves creatively to the need for Spirit-led or culturally motivated shifts in focus. I hope the learnings of our team in these areas will serve you in responding creatively to your own developmental challenges.
Creativity in Communication
From the inception of our ministry we focused on spotlighting the musician community as an overlooked mission field, and we sought out opportunities to mobilize followers of Jesus to serve the needs of artists. This motivation birthed our tagline, Serving the Voices, and shaped the culture of our ministry to prioritize practical service as central to our identity.
Several years into our ministry we began to discover some inherent dangers connected with how we were accustomed to talking about our mission and vision. The following realizations provide an example of the creative work we were led into in redefining our communication:
When we realized we lacked an emphasis on the supernatural we began to introduce an expectation for the miraculous work of the Spirit.
When we realized our audience was too narrow for our mission we began to include a broader demographic reach that matched the impact of our vision and calling.
When we realized our ministry partners existed in isolation we began to train our network of volunteers about the connection between their role and the overall movement.
When we realized we were primarily known for our actions we began to unpack what we were doing and tease out the motivations behind it all to shed light on our ultimate ministry vision.
Take inventory of how you’re accustomed to talking about your ministry. Attempt to identify unhelpful patterns in your messaging. Look for the gaps in your communication as well as for creative opportunities to put a fresh spin on something you share often.
Creativity in Engagement
In 2016 our family moved from Anaheim, CA to Phoenix, AZ. As we settled into life in the desert I was eager to engage a brand new network of relationships and excited to grow as an Artist Chaplain to musicians around the valley. I quickly found out that God had other plans.
During a time of prayer Jesus challenged my thinking and motivation by asking me why I would choose to engage these new relationships on my own. “Don’t you think there are others around the valley who I’ve called into the same work?” That challenge changed the trajectory of my efforts over that first summer in Phoenix.
Rather than pioneering my own ministry potential, I found myself led to recruit a pilot team of artists like myself who were attempting to navigate the divide between the church and musician community, and who desired to influence the lives of artists on both sides of the divide. This shift redirected all of my creative energy from a personal engagement strategy, to a vision for multiplied impact through leader development.
Ultimately, the insights gained from the past two-plus years of collaborative ministry in Phoenix have exponentially accelerated our learning process, and provided us a template for launching and multiplying similar teams in other cities around the world.
Spend time in prayer surrendering your ambitions to Jesus. Ask him to reveal your blind spots and seek his guidance. Respond with quick obedience.
Creativity in Planning
Possibly our most significant area of developmental growth rests in our planning efforts. It became clear after a decade of ministry that there was a big difference between having a grand vision for impact, and making the necessary plans to move from dreams to reality.
The story of Nehemiah provides a strong Biblical example of the impact of creativity in planning. When King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah how he could help resolve the sadness he felt over Jerusalem lying in ruins his question was quickly responded to with a detailed plan and clear vision for potential obstacles that would need to be overcome. His quick response demonstrates Nehemiah’s preparedness to seize opportunity when it arose. He had clearly spent time reasoning through the impossible situation and creatively envisioned an appropriate plan of action.
Similarly, our team has dedicated intentional time over the past few years to creatively define the strategic priorities and corresponding execution plan necessary to move us closer to accomplishing the vision God has given us, a vision which we realize is bigger than our team or even Novo as a whole. The creative vision we’ve been given to steward requires a collaborative multi-agency effort that will unify Christ-followers around the world who align with our mission and calling.
If you could only accomplish one thing in your life or ministry what would it be? Have you spent time weighing the costs of what is required? If the opportunity presented itself would you be ready to take action?
Regardless of where you’re at in your journey, I bless you to overcome the growing pains of your development. I bless you in the process of seeking to discern opportunities for fresh waves of creative inspiration. Creator God longs to release creativity in and through you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simeon Lohrmann and his wife Johanna live in Phoenix, AZ with their three children. The Lohrmanns both work as team leaders with Novo and share a passion to catalyze gospel movements around the world. For more info on Simeon’s team and the calling to minister to musicians visit RYFO.org.