Hire the Person, Not the Position

Being a painter at a church is a puzzling thing to describe. Pretty much every time I tell people what I am and where I work (artist and I work at a church in Houston as an artist) they always follow with a “So what is it you actually do?” And rightly so, I think.

I mean who’s heard of a painter working at a church?

As I’ve answered this question over and over and I’ve explained how I came to be at Ecclesia, I’ve started to realize that something atypical happened in the hiring process.

I had been working with churches and para-church organizations for the last few years partnering the process of making art with music, speakers, and conferences. I happened to do a conference in Portland, OR with Chris Seay, head pastor at Ecclesia. We got to be friends over the 5 days of working together (him preaching me painting) and he invited me down to Houston to meet the community down there. After visiting for four days he told me that they would like to offer me a job. Here’s how our conversation went:

Me- “What do you want me to do?”
Chris – “I think what you are doing is important and I want you to keep doing it but do it with us and let us support you.”
Me – “Okay but what would I do at the church?”
Chris- “I don’t know. Just do what you think you’re suppose to do.”

So there you go. Tough job interview.
My first day at Ecclesia was to write my own job description letting them know what I was going to be doing. You gotta understand that I had and still don’t have any role models on what it’s suppose to look like for an artist to work at a church. But I had been deep in prayer over months as I was preparing to take the job at Ecclesia so I wrote down my guesses at what I would be doing. And I’ve been praying and guessing ever since.
: )

But back to what I was getting at before. What was peculiar about my hiring to this position is that Ecclesia
hired me
and not a position.

The work that I do at the church is in direct connection with who I am and what I am passionate about. I’m at the church to create a visual culture… in that everything we do we are always representing are journey as a community with God is some kind of visual form- photography, painting, video, etc. Along with that I’m also at the church to be around to respond to the work of God in our community. I create from what goes on.

So since being at ecclesia I’ve created series of paintings based on lent, created a multi-media presentation on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, have created over a hundred images based on biblical teaching during our communal gatherings, preached, written made films, thrown dances for clean water pumps, and much much more.
This has all come around not cause there is a job like this that’s needs to be filled. This has all come about because this is who I am and what I am interested in.

If you are a church community and you want to progress the arts in your community, I would say your steps of actions are less about creating a role and more about finding someone you can help free up to do what they are passionate about.

I’m not writing any books on leadership in churches nor do I have a ton of experience in the way of church organization, but from my small experiences it seems to me that churches decide on the pre-determined roles and then search for people to fill those roles. And I would say that this isn’t inherently bad. All organizations need accountants, leaders, managers, etc. But it’s been amazing working at Ecclesia and seeing the balance between finding needed roles and unleashing peoples interests and passions in particular ways.

What I’ve created and what’s being created is coming out of 2 places: my passions and the road of obedience the Almighty is asking me to walk on. What’s happening is coming out of the will of God and the things he’s placed in me to bring out in the world. In some ways, this can only be done by me. Not art in the church, but who I am, what I care about, and what God has asked me to do are particular… so this becomes a particular happening in a particular place.

What’s reproducible is finding people in your midst who are going to make stuff happen and freeing them to do that… for you and the world.

So who’s in your midst who you know is going to do some amazing stuff?
How can you free them to do it?
What’s God asking you to be obedient in? Are you doing it?

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About scotterickson

curator of awesomeness scottericksonart.com
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7 Responses to Hire the Person, Not the Position

  1. Wayne Park says:

    Awesome. reminds me of the old, old way of “patronage” – (not a bad thing).

    The big names were believed in, invested, and cultivated by the Medici or some ecclesiastical body. A worthy practice to revive in the contemporary church today

  2. Jen says:

    Hi Scott!

    First off, WOW!

    Second, I’m a painter too… We actually talked several months ago! You were so kind to let me ask you some questions and let me share with you about the current series of paintings I am working on, titled “The Church”.

    You can see how it’s coming along by checking out my website and also, JR Woodward has blogged about it some. You can check out his blog posts here: http://tinyurl.com/64jhz72

    Your post is great! I think this is Amazing! Sooo encouraging and inspiring as a fellow artist and follower of Christ! Just this morning, I was just reading Tony Morgans ebook, The Leisure Suit Trap. He said that church leaders do not need to just delegate tasks and tell people what to do, but rather EMPOWER them to BE the people God wired them to be. You definitely sound empowered! 🙂 Praise God for such freedom… freedom for God to move as you obey Him!

    I really agree with your post and would even ask, could this be applied to volunteers in the church as well? Leaders could equip and empower people to use their unique gifts, talents, passions, and abilities along with God’s direction, to pursue ways to make a difference and minister to others with the purpose of making disciples and advancing God’s Kingdom.

    There may be a ministry on someone’s heart that they are called to do, yet it doesn’t “exist yet”… like your “job”. Now, prayer and wisdom are key in these situations… but what would that look like if believer’s were empowered to take ownership in their role to effectively achieve the mission of the church and pursue the ministry God called them to? For me personally, it involves risk taking, faith, total dependance on God, and hard work, but it’s work I love and have a heart for. It’s not a “duty”… It’s… an “adventure” with God and I love it!

    May God continue to use you, Scott, as you serve Him and make a difference for the better!

    Your artist friend and sister in Christ,

    Jen

    • scotterickson says:

      yeah jen

      been traveling. meant to tell you i love your paintings and that link you sent me about the shallow church. really great.

      glad this post was encouraging to you.
      i totally think volunteers should do this as well. the role of the leaders in the church is to help the volunteers walk into their gifts (ephesians 4 – to encourage the priesthood of the saints).

      for everyone, especially artists, we need to always be obedient to what the Almighty is calling us to do… whether or not we get the “blessing” from our leaders. not that we should move forward without community, but there is a balance.
      be obedient with what you know you are supposed to do and go forward with that.

      glad you are doing that.

      scott

  3. Stephanie says:

    Hi Scott!
    I wanted to let you know that I am greatly encouraged by your passion and the role you play at Ecclesia. I am passionate about the Arts, and have recently been obedient in organizing a ministry team (called Uninhibited Praise-http://www.uninhibitedpraise.webs.com/, and on Facebook) that incorporated Fine and Performing arts. Our first event is coming up on August 6th, and Im VERY excited!! We will be having live music both worship and secular (paramore, one rupublic, jesus culture), having dance and performers, and displaying painting, photography, written and graphic art. This is something I would love to see weaved into the fabric of the church eventually.
    I relly related to what you said in just being yourself and being obedient, rather than seeking a role to fill. While I technically am the “Worship Pastor” at C3 Raleigh, I am not bound to that role. God has assigned me to a lifestyle of worship that uses those mediums to be obedient to my first and foremost charge: to share Him with others. I take that very seriously and am seeking out ways to do this daily.
    I also like that you mentioned empowering others to work within their gifts. Its SO much more than delegating a task or assigning a role/title. It is a very practical and useful concept that would benefit more local churches to recognize.
    Thanks so much for your posts and your heart for Christ! It is refreshing to see and to read!
    Stephanie
    PS I am working on a series about the Bride of Christ. I will send pics whn complete and of the upcoming event!

  4. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the encouragement today! I was just speaking with our pastor about these things… and because I’m a photographer, how it all would look. I have been inspired lately by a few of his specific sermons that are very visual in the teaching. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for all this!

  5. Scott, Very encouraging post! It had to go through two RT’s to get to me (thanks to @robcizek Rob Cizek and Blaine Christenson @blainec24) and it was well worth it.
    What you are doing is right up the alley of the Two Handed Warrior Network. http://bit.ly/qG0QVM
    With your permission, I would love to repost the first few paragraphs with a link to your site so our network members could catch a vision for want your doing. We are seriously lacking in visual artists and I would love to have our members catch your vision. Let me know if you’re game?
    Grace and great mercy,
    Gary

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