A month has passed since the Arts in Worship recruitment campaign at our church and I want to share some of the lessons we have learned. Review is an often-skipped-but-very-necessary stage in wrapping up an event or campaign.
Let’s begin with what went well.
- The visibility of arts in the church went way up. The excitement of those several weeks was tangible and planted seeds in people’s hearts about the role of arts in worship.
- More people stepped forward to share their artistic talents in worship leadership. We had good responses, particularly to Musical and Visual Arts.
- Artists engaged in meaningful spiritual connections. I enjoyed the spiritual and personal conversations that happened throughout those weeks, both with our arts leaders and with interested artists. The campaign drew people in from the fringes.
- We stretched boundaries. This campaign was the first of it’s kind at our church, and people loved it. The Live in the Lobby portion of the campaign was a new idea and well received.
- Artists of all ages got involved. Throughout the campaign we had teenagers as well as senior adults making meaningful contributions.
- We did well on follow-up. In almost all of the cases we followed up promptly with interested individuals to see their interest level and to answer questions.
- The First Step Weekend was a good idea. Although not all of the arts areas had good experiences on First Step Weekend, the idea and energy there was positive and worth revisiting.
Now for some of the things that did not go so well.
- Promotion was weak. Because we ran the campaign on short notice our promotion suffered. More advance time would have meant better element planning for the services to support the campaign. On the Musical Arts week we had special music and on the Dramatic Arts week we had a dramatic reading of Scripture, but these things were last minute and happened to work out. In addition, we had no real connection between the in-service promotion and the Live in the Lobby piece. They coexisted rather than working together.
- Response to Technical Arts was almost non-existent. We did not portray Technical Arts visibly, they had no presence in the Live in the Lobby portion of the campaign, and Technical Arts are largely invisible in church as it is.
- We had lots of no-shows for our follow-up meetings and auditions.
- Live in the Lobby did not work well for Dramatic Arts. Doing dramatic sketches in a noisy lobby does not work as well as doing live music. What did work for them was walking around in the lobby in character and engaging people in conversation.
- The lobby was not large enough for the Live in the Lobby presentations. While we cannot do much about this piece at this point, we realize that the arts presentations were a bit cramped.
- Our location was not central enough for Live in the Lobby. Being off to the side minimized interaction.
- We had too few interactions with The Visual Arts and Dramatic Arts Live in the Lobby experiences. The buzz created by having live art in the lobby was wonderful, but connections were primarily with other artists, family, and friends.
With those things in mind, here are some of our takeaways.
- Plan ahead. Advance planning, as usual, is critical to the success of a campaign like this.
- Clearly connect all of the elements of the campaign. Verbiage, visuals, and handouts should clearly connection the experiences in the auditorium during services with the experiences in the lobby between the services and any other pieces to the campaign.
- Have clear opportunities for interested people. Dramatic Arts follow-up responses would most likely have been much better if we could have told interested people that we have sketches and productions already planned for the next 6-12 months. Then follow-up meetings become a casting call rather than a get together of people who do not know each other.
- Personally recruit people for invisible ministries like the Technical Arts. Personal invitations and recommendations are critical for this challenging ministry.
- Do drama differently in the lobby. In the future, should we do this again, we will focus on actors in character interacting with people in the lobby rather than trying to present dramatic sketches in a noisy environment.
- Do something. While we have much to work on, the experience and responses were wonderful and demonstrated a big step forward for Arts at our church.
- Artists are here. We now realize we have more artists in the seats than we thought. We would not have known this if we had not asked.
- God is active. Throughout the spiritual conversations, auditions, and performances, God made his presence known.
We definitely have a lot to learn when it comes to recruiting and empowering artists to use their gifts in worship, but this campaign has given us some valuable insights.
What have you learned about recruiting artists?