In the last post, The Artist’s Way, I proposed that the “artistic temperament” (as it’s defined by the Enneagram) was the dominant corporate personality of Vineyard Central. Having had a few weeks to reflect more on that thesis, I’m as convinced as ever that it’s true.
Here’s a very brief summary of what I said. As a church we’ve collected creatives, dreamers, non-traditionalists, and (most significantly) individualists. Artistic types, before they mature, have a deep need to stand out, to be seen as special, as unique, as not like others. To join in with others is to forfeit the uniqueness they privately desire.
Here’s a case in point. In the first years of VC’s planting, I vigorously encouraged our artists to write worship songs, and I made ample (and almost exclusive) room for them to be played in our public worship. Although so many deeply worshipful songs came from that time, I realize now that my desire to see our songs played had a shadow side to it that was driven, at least in part, by fear. I wanted so much to avoid what I considered the “Wall Mart” songs of the Vineyard that were regularly released by Vineyard Music Group in southern California. I mean, if we played and sang what all the other Vineyards were using, then how in the world were we different? And if we weren’t different, then how could we be special? Of course, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with writing our own music — to the contrary, it should be encouraged! — but the invitation to offer creative gifts should issue from a positive stance rather than a fear of being “just like everyone else.” Likewise, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with being different … unless it stems from the very groundless reason of being different only for the sake of being different.
I also mentioned in the last post that, as a group, artists are mostly introverted (they need time alone to do creative work), weak in organization (they think in broad strokes, not fine detail), weaker in follow-through (they get bored quickly and want to move on), and suspicious of growth / success (a sure sign that you’ve sold out). There are exceptions to these generalizations, of course, but the overall pattern holds.
So my question was this: How does a larger group whose persona is unorthodox, individualistic, introverted, unorganized and afraid of success move toward God’s vision of creating communities and growing communities? I suggested some ways forward, but I certainly don’t have the final word on the matter, nor am I meant to. The answers lie in the community, and if we’re to overcome the liabilities of the Artist’s Way, then the community needs to contribute to the discussion. At the same time, we need to act, not get mired down in some protracted discussion. One way you can help is to email constructive thoughts you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll forward these to the pastoral council and they’ll become a part of our discussions for 2011. In suggesting ways we can move forward as a community, please also state how you’d like to contribute to that.
Here are some of the things I’ll be working to complete — by myself and with others — by the end of the first quarter of 2011:
• establishing a clear orientation process for newcomers
• launching an ongoing orientation group
• stating clearly what it means to be a member / stakeholder within our community
• having a weekly “bird’s eye” communication of the “good things God is doing among us”
• launching 2 more house churches
• conducting monthly encouragement and coaching times for our house church leaders
• concluding the work of the St. E’s Exploration Team (S.E.E.)
• presenting S.E.E.’s work to the community
Thanks to those who gave public and private feedback to my last post. Your comments were helpful, eye-opening, challenging and needed. I appreciate the time you gave to read it and write back. Keep it coming. Simply be loving, take responsibility for what you can, and think how you can join into the redemptive work that God hold out to us in 2011.
Peace to you,