Backstage Pass – Created to Create

At Gateway Church in Austin, as our city hosts SXSW, we explored our God-given creativity.


Did you ever consider that God, as our creator, created us to create? We all have creativity inside of us that can be used, even if we don’t always realize it. Perhaps the key to discovering our creativity will come through diving deeper into what God says about music, different types of worship, culture, and how it all comes into play for how we can impact society and change our world. What were you created to create?

Next Steps:

Discussion questions for your life group or family dinner are here.

Audio of the Message shared at Gateway South:

Notes from the Message:

From Justin Girdler:

As a  little kid, I loved to create—draw my drawings everywhere, but, somewhere along the way, I’m not sure where, I came to believe God could only use my utility. That to be loved by Him, he needed to see some sort of return, for his investment. 

I felt like I had to put away this childish, non-useful thing, I had to give up my refrigerator drawings and creative urges and become useful to Him. So I was going to get this zoology degree, go to vet school and go help people in Africa, that was the plan anyway. But my last year there something happened. I realized there was no way I was going to make it into Vet school, and part of me was actually pretty excited about that.

I began to notice something, I began to pay attention to what I did when I was bored. And as soon as I put off these expectations of myself. Drawing returned. And drawing led me to storyboarding, and storyboarding to filmmaking, and filmmaking to creativity arts of all kinds. Seven years ago, I came to work for Gateway helping create the video and art and arc of our Sunday experiences.

It has become essential to everything I do

It has become essential for how I bear God’s image.

See, the irony in my story, and the fact that I’m talking to you right now, is that being a creative has less to do with working alongside artists, and more about making the invisible visible.

So I believe the misconception about creativity is that “some people have it and some people don’t.”  That if you’re born with a creative spark, and you can apply that to some natural talent, you can become this phenomena, this “natural”, as people call it. I think that you-have-it-or-you-don’t mentality comes from our wonderment when we see great creativity on display.  We think, “How did they do that – What did that take – Why can’t I do that?” And right about then, is when we hear a little voice, “Because you’re not creative—or not as creative as they are.

All of us were Created to Create.  We have to break this mindset that we are not creative because God made us in His image.

Creation is …  well, it’s in the beginning  Gen 1:27 … Adam & Eve were made in the image of God, they were (and we are) his image bearers. And part of that is we carry forward his identity as creative. We don’t have any problems with ideas like we represent God when we “love others” or “stand up for what is right” or “don’t covet your neighbor’s … donkey.” But we have a harder time owning up to the fact that it is in our essence, secular or Christian, that when we create, when we are being creative, we are living out of our function to bear His image as the most creative being in the universe.

Just think about how creative God is. Look at the diversity of animals (we’ve only identified about 2 million different species, 10,000 new ones get found every year. The Creator loves sharing new things He can imagine—there are 950,000 species of insects alone. Some of us wish He’d stopped sharing at 1 species. Billions of stars around billions of galaxies, some that look like eyes, some butterflies. And so our ability to create for God can be an act of worship—it makes God smile

We need to have a new mindset, a new definition, to de-mystify this word “creativity”. To open up and release our creative image given by God. We’ve made the definition of creative so narrow that only a few can qualify. In all my work with artists, with producers, with musicians, painters and filmmakers, all these “creative types”, and I would define creativity as: Our ability to divulge (or share with others) what we can imagine. 


Do you realize that you WERE created to create?  And creating can become an act of worship.  

I would challenge you to first identify where you’re already creative—what are you imaging and bringing into existence to share with others already?  And turn it into an act of worship.

Second, stretch creatively – try something new and creative because that develops creativity—it’s a gift we develop. Paul tells Timothy “fan into flame the gift given to you”. We have to develop. You may be thinking…

  • “But what if I fail?”

We have bought into this lie that creative people never fail and hence failure is proof that we are not ourselves, creative.  But failure is required to grow your creativity—a child’s stick figure drawing is not failure, it’s development. You would never expect a child to paint like ??? without developing. So stop judging development as failure.  You’re not failing, you’re developing.

  • “But I’m waiting for inspiration.”

“Inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals, we just go to work in the morning.”  The truth is the more you create, the more creative you become. Waiting for the lightening bolt of inspiration to strike rarely happens if you don’t practice creating.

  • “What if people don’t like it?”

Jesus even warns us, when we live connected to God and walk in his way …

“But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.” – Luke 4:24

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?…If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

Here’s where following God sets us free to create. Don’t create for people first, create for God first—write that song as an act of creative worship, paint that painting for God’s pleasure—then if people like it, great. But if they don’t, it’s still valuable because it’s created by God’s Creation as an act of love to the Creator. 

Take that imagination of yours and create a better future. To creatively create a better business with better practices, to creatively create a family environment where your marriage, where your kids can flourish and grow, you can take the ideas and inventions, and models and plans in your head, and if you can partner with God in bringing them into existence.

From Kenny Green, John Burke, and Eric Bryant

Where are you already creating? How might that be an art of worship in your life?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Colossians 3:23-24

We are created to create.

Did you know that when we introduce ourselves, we also reference the fact we are created in the image of God? Usually when we introduce ourselves we say: “I am _______.”

In the Old Testament, God tells Moses his name is “I am.”

When we introduce ourselves we are saying God’s name then our name.  It’s like we are acknowledging. “My name is _____________, created by God.”

There is a moment when Jesus refers to Himself with the exact same name. Surrounded by a crowd ready to stone Him to death in

Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. – John 8:53-59 

Next time you introduce yourself with “My name is _____________, realize you are also saying you are created by God.” 

We are created by the Creator to be Creative! As we do, we’re revealing something about the heart of God!

Where can we stretch to create more? Are there areas of our lives where we may need to let go of perfection and embrace the art of development?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.  – Romans 12:1-2

Not everything we imagine is good or beautiful. We need to allow God to renew our mind so that we imagine what is best for ourselves and others – thoughts that reflect God’s image.

Followers of Jesus living in “creative community” together will by definition look less and less like the culture and the status-quo because it’s a community that is creating and innovating and doing so in humility and with grace as we are practicing The Way of Jesus together and being transformed by Him!  

In our “cut-and-paste”… re-post… “insta-copy” culture… what the world needs is for The Church… the people of Jesus… to start leading again… and Changing the World, together! What arises out of a truly creative community are movements that shape culture, never chase after it!

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – Romans 12:3-6

Think of what could happen if we dared to see ourselves the way God sees us as His “Poema” as His masterpiece… bearing His image in, not only what we create, but in how we create together… as one Body… one creative community!

From Phillip Rogers:

The brush itself is a voice.

The strokes it makes are poetry in their own right.

They have no cause to turn from their meaning.

Elegant they seem to appear to your eye.

This art you see… so vividly…as poetry…

The poet itself you can see.

Clearly it has its place in the realm of creativity.

This, is not the only type of art you see.

Our Creator created us intentionally.

Like himself we were drawn..

Like him we were made to be a kind of artist in our own right.

With brushes and strings and voices beautiful, broken, messy, and too afraid to soak ourselves deep into the paint…

To create is to give a piece of us away, apart…

A part that will be limited only by us accepting our own limitations, to boldly embrace our full potential created in us.

Are you creative?

Be courageous!

Ideas are born and refined in the fire of inevitable failure.

Something out of nothing…

Creativity is a child of risk and failure and the moment we accept this failure as the given as the constant, we in turn produce the power to shine that light into the darkness where fears find rest.

Is there a fingerprint, an impression, from somewhere outside of us, that rests upon our souls to express a unique beauty buried within.

We are paintings, songs, and sculptures made by a Creator…

Created to create…

We are each a prism with uncommon angles designed to reflect a dazzling rainbow of colors from beyond.

The power that breathed us into being trembles in hope that we too will lift our fingers, flex our minds.

Will you study the world around you, imitate design, combine to make something new.

Something new…

Something created from you.

  • Jen

    What a nice collaboration of people I love. Thanks for sharing this Eric. This is beautiful and inspiring. Praise to our God!

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