Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pushing Creative Ministry to the MAX at Ministry Arts Xtra

I just returned from another week of incredible blessings, inspiration and fellowship at Ministry Arts Xtra (MAX), an international festival sponsored by Creative Ministry Solutions at Grove City Church of the Nazarene in Ohio. Again, all I can say is “Wow! Thank you God!”

If you aren’t familiar with Ministry Arts Xtra, it’s an amazing 4-day conference that dives into a variety of creative ministry topics through workshops, performances and competitions. The Creative Ministry Dream Team is a select group of 15 attendees that audition to be part of the team and come together for the 4 days to put together a program to present as the finale of the conference.

This year I had the blessing of being able to fill a support role for the Dream Team’s directors, Christy Watkins and Carrie Murphy, as well as the Dream Team as they worked to bring together an ambitious program set in “Heavenly Street."

The program followed this year’s festival theme “Whatever,” inspired by Philippians 4:8. “Whatever” tells the story of Max, a pack rat that fills his trash can with the junk of this world, while his friend Sally shows him there’s much more to life than just trash when we set our sights on God and “whatever” he has in store for us.

The script and songs were woven together beautifully and the program featured puppetry, ventriloquism, sign language, dowel rods, dance and much more. The story drew delightful references to Sesame Street, such as Yip Yip Martians discovering the audience and “which of these is not like the other?” Everything came together to create a charming, humorous and meaningful program that was a joy to be a part of.

Songs included:

·         “Heavenly Street” (Sesame Street Parody) by Mark Bradford – featured out-front puppetry
·         “Where I Belong” by Building 429 – featured chair choreography, sign language and dowel rods
·         “Hold Me” by Jamie Grace – featured live actors, puppet choreography and umbrellas
·         “There Is A Way” by NewWorldSon – featured blacklight Stringbean puppets
·         “When He Saved The World” by Mark Bradford – featured hand mime
·         “I Surrender All” by Crystal Lewis – featured flags
·         “Feelin’ So Fly” by tobyMac – featured dance choreography
·         “Don’t Let Me Miss the Glory” by Gordon Mote – featured dowel rods, sign language and banners

Rehearsals were long, lasting up to 12 hours a day, to polish the hour-long program in time for the end of the week. The hard work paid off though as the Dream Team presented a beautiful, diverse program that not only made the audience laugh and smile but also applaud the glory of God.

The opportunity to work with the Dream Team again but on the directorial side was also an amazing opportunity to learn from the example of the two very seasoned directors. Their servant leadership, creativity and humility was a wonder to watch in action!

All in all, I’m grateful for the wonderful opportunity I had to jump back into creative ministries after 10 months of sabbatical. We are going to start gearing up the ministry team soon for the 2013-2014 year and I have come back not only eager to serve but also inspired and blessed!

For more information about Ministry Arts Xtra and the Dream Team, please visit