Interview with Stephen Brewster

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I’ve been a longtime fan of Stephen Brewster and Cross Point Church in Nashville. I was lucky enough to sit down with Stephen for a few minutes and talk about the church, creativity, and design. Below is part of our conversation.

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“From a media stand point, what do you feel the church is missing out on and with that that, what is the church doing right?”

 

stephenauthorcircle“I think the church has gotten a ton better about media, with how we’re telling stories, making films, right?  We’ve gotten way better at that.

The problem is I think we’ve gotten so good at it, that we’ve fallen in love with one style of doing that.  

And, there’s probably more for us to explore, experience, what we haven’t dug into yet.  On the graphic side, I feel like we’re still a little bit, we’re still a little bit on a trail but we’re closing it in a little bit.  But I don’t know that we’ve identified those like iconic artists yet.

We don’t have a Warhol or a something along those lines, you know what I mean.  We haven’t had a preeminent designer, that steps forward and owns the game.  You know I think, I think there is a couple of guys that are really really good and they’re on the cusp of doing that.

 I think that creativity is getting easier, it’s getting more affordable, more accessible, so with that it allows the playing field to even out a little bit.  So now a church of 200 can be just as creative as a church of 20,000.  They might not be as polished, but they can be as creative, they can make really good stuff.

You know, and so that’s exciting for me, because I feel like, I feel like church plants are going to drive the future of some of that art for churches because they have to be so much more innovative and so they’re kinda like startups you know.  They have to be, really. They’re doing things, they can take chances and risks, that more established organizations probably are afraid to take.  So it’s good.”

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“How do you handle someone who may not be as creative as you? Here’s an example, your senior pastor gives you an idea and you know it’s going to be awful. How do you handle that?”

 

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“Well that’s a great question.  It’s a complex answer.  It’s not an easy answer by any means.  So here’s a couple ways that I think you have to unpack that.

First off, as artists, we’re here to serve the vision of our church.

Most of the time, the lead communicator, lead pastor is the visionary of your church.  So God’s giving them or telling them something it’s important for you to share, and it’s our job to put skin on that thing, whatever it is.  Right?  So if they come to you with something that’s kinda like a whack idea, as an artist, you get to use your creativity to take that whack idea and make it cool.  That’s the first part.

The second part is, sometimes you can’t make it cool, but you can collect data.  Right?  And so you collect data about why it wouldn’t, and why it doesn’t work.

Sometimes you gotta let it go out there and fail just like you’re going to want your pastor to let you fail sometimes.

We’re going to have ideas that we want to try that we are going to go petition our pastor for and it’s about building trust with each other.

So it’s not about a dictatorship, it’s about a partnership.

But ultimately we are underneath our pastors and we need to respect and honor that, and we need to respect and honor their requests.  Our job is to set them up to win, and so that should be filter number one, then filter number two is data.  That’s getting some data, so we can go back, “hey so we had that idea last time and it didn’t work and here’s why.”

And just like you want them to let you fail, you gotta let them, you give them permission to fail a little bit too. It is a weird thing to do, but that’s part of leading up and being a leader from your seat.

So, the last thing and I think this is the hardest thing for artists, your pastor doesn’t hate you if he doesn’t like your design, right?

We get so caught up inside of our art, we get so connected to it and then when people don’t like it, we think they are rejecting us. 

They’re not rejecting you. they may just don’t like what you did.  Every artist deals with that, I deal with it all the time.  … you know, and there will be a litany of reasons, at the end of the day though opinions kinda stink, but data tells stories, you know?  And sometimes it will… and sometimes it won’t, but when it is, then it works for you and when it’s not you need to learn from it.”

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Stephen is the Creative Arts Pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. He has spent the past 15 years in professional creative environments including church, music business, marketing, management, artist development, creative team leading and art directing.  For more info and thoughts visit Stephen at his website, stephenbrewster.me

 

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