I recently caught up with Rick Calcutt to talk about his new book, “The Blame Game.” This book is a great resource for you if you’re trying to improve your weekend worship services, the creative process, or the relationship between your Pastor and Creatives.
I’m giving away a free copy of “The Blame Game” to one of my readers! Just sign up here and I’ll let everyone know the winner next week!
Paul: Multiple times in this book you elude to what you call, “The Creative Process.” Doesn’t creativity just “happen” when you gather a group of creative individuals together? Can you actually plan for creativity?
Rick: “The Creative Process” is the system that a truly creative environment thrives on. It does so by normalizing, simplifying, and qualifying the creative workflow. This is essential because when the “day to day” and “week to week” tasks become creative habits, the creative team is allowed to focus more on their skill and passion. In the book I call those on the creative team (worship leader, video & audio techs, etc) Creatives. It is true that creativity happens naturally, but it is also a fact that you can plan for creativity. Creatives create, but a strong creative process gives structure and timeline that permits multiple Creatives, a creative team, to sync their creative schedules, efforts, and skills. The creative process found in “The Blame Game” equips the individual Creative and the creative team. It provides them adequate time for creation; clear schedules that remove confusion about deadlines; innovative possibilities that stimulate creative collaboration. Everyone’s happy. The Creatives get a great environment for creation. The Pastor, staff and church community receive impactful, inspiring, and clear worship experiences.
Paul: When most people hear churches talk about “Creative Arts” they automatically start thinking, “this is just a conversation for mega-churches.” But you assert that the principles in this book apply, “regardless of the size of your church”. How are the concepts in this book helpful to “normal” churches like the one I grew up in?
Rick: The Creative Process isn’t bound by the size of the church, the amount in the budget, or the number of full-time creative employees. The process is a travel guide, it provides directions to get you from Point A to Point B. Point A is a beginning theme, inspired by the Pastor’s vision. Point B is a creative, impactful and clear worship experience created by the creative team. It doesn’t matter if you get there on a bus or in a Volkswagen Beetle. The process keeps you on a purposeful journey. It focuses your travelers because the journey is clearly mapped and known ahead of time so to minimize travel problems. And the culture of the church determines the luggage demands. One church may determine they need more creative ideas than the other. The other demands fewer elements in worship. Ultimately, the final destination is an inspiring worship experience for the community.
Paul: Creative types often get a reputation as being a prima donna or having fragile egos…basically most people think Creatives are difficult to work with. What can Pastors do to attract and work more effectively with Creatives?
Rick: Absolutely they have fragile egos. Their emotional wiring makes them great at what they do and also difficult to understand. The book talks about this very clearly. The Blame Game explains that there can be a successful relationship with Creatives (the creative personnel) if Pastors would: Listen to them; make sure there is always a place where the creatives can share their ideas. Choose their words carefully; the pastor is a respected authority who’s careless critique can be harmful. Affirm them; a supervisor’s praise is a must. This will motivate them to be innovative. Trust them; everyone works better when they are trusted. Creatives don’t like to feel like “hired hands.” Continually talk Kingdom; remind them that they are part of an important and eternal mission. These are a few of the many practical tips explained in the book in order to prevent the blame game.
Paul: In the book you hit the concepts of “time” and “patience” a couple of times. How is time connected to the Creative Process?
Rick: Time is at the center of the Creative Process. Time is the artist’s friend; the more time a Creative has, the better the creative outcome and product. So if this is true, I submit the best outcome of a complete and successful Creative Process is more time for the artist. A successful process lays out a progressive, yet practical schedule; provides uncomplicated, but thorough task lists; and enlarges the creative playing field. In short, it minimizes the time spent on the day-in-and-day-out routine by transforming these tasks into creative habits. With these responsibilities reduced, the focus can now be on the artist’s skill and passion to create. With more time, creative quality and quantity increased.
Paul: Rick, you’ve personally worked at an Executive Level providing leadership to the Creative Arts at a couple of very large and influential churches. What are a couple of lessons you learned along the way that you wish had known earlier?
Rick: I wish I had learned earlier that the language I speak as a Creative is very different than that of the Pastor. My ignorance of this frustrated me as an artist, but also created relational difficulties with my Pastor. There was a strained relationship even though our purpose was the same. You see I was called to make Christ famous with my skill and with my art. He was also called to clearly communicate the Gospel of Christ. We both wanted the same thing, we just didn’t know how to successfully and clearly communicate, so the goal of a impactful worship experience couldn’t be met. Out of ignorance neither my Pastor nor myself knew how to fix the problem. What ensued was blame. And since this first encounter, it has been my passion to fix this problem, not only for myself, but also for my creative teams. It is my opinion, that this is the primary responsibility and duty of the Creative Arts Director. I call them the “Creative Activist” in the book. If the responsibilities found in the book are met the blame game can be avoided. This is the reason I wrote “The Blame Game.” It would be sad if we let these kinds of negative experiences squelch our interest in innovation. And as a church immersed in a creative generation, an innovative approach is a valid and important part of ministering to our modern day target audience. The only blame in creativity lies with those who give up on creativity and, by doing so, refuse to speak the language of the people they are called to reach.
Rick Calcutt has been in full-time ministry for more that 25 years; leading as Executive Pastor of Creative Arts for some well known mega churches with single and multisite campuses. He has been a writer for Life Way Christian Resources in Nashville for more than 15 years, taught in national conferences, and also is a creative consultant. He lives in the Phoenix area with his wife, Wendy. You can catch up with Rick at his blog CreativeJunket
Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership