As someone who is interested in the way we can more completely integrate our faith into our lives, this is a question that has interested me for some time. When Creative Church Handbook by J. Scott McElroy showed up as a book available for review, I immediately requested it, thinking it might be a good read. What an understatement! The Creative Church Handbook is a phenomenal guide for those interested in how to make arts ministries and integrate a love for the arts into their church.
The book is, well, a handbook for starting up, organizing, and thriving in arts ministries in your church. It is organized in a logical fashion, with an introduction providing reasons for supporting arts ministries and ways to get leadership on board, followed by numerous chapters on building said ministry, ideas for specific types of arts ministries, and moving the ministry beyond the church walls.
The chapters on setting up an arts ministry are wonderful because they provide a number of different concepts of what that ministry might look like, along with how to overcome potential challenges which may come up and advice on how to avoid burning people out or scaring them off. McElroy does a good job of envisioning the issues which may come up like funding, integration into worship, and the like.
The chapters on what an arts ministry may look like are where the rubber really hits the road as generalized suggestions about things like creating live artworks in worship are intertwined with concrete examples from successful arts ministries.
One downside to the book is that there is little if any mention of several art forms like music and technical arts. McElroy acknowledges this in the Preface and notes that, in part, it is because music has been integrated fairly well into worship and the technical arts are, well, technical and would require a different type of book. However, it seems to me that much of McElroy’s advice in this book could be modified slightly to apply to these other forms of the arts. The copy I received was a pre-release and so I was unable to evaluate the index as this was not included.
Overall, I would highly recommend Creative Church Handbook for the libraries of leaders in churches and also for laity interested in starting arts ministries. It is an extremely insightful guide with many ideas to help foster growth. You will almost certainly have your mind filled with all kinds of excellent ideas for developing the arts in your faith community. It comes highly recommended. I know I’ll be trying to start a ministry like this up when my wife gets a call after graduation.
I received a review copy of the book from InterVarsity Press. I was not obligated by the publisher to give any specific type of feedback whatsoever.
J. Scott McElroy Creative Church Handbook (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015).
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