Prophecy And The Creative Community
I am honored to lead the worlds largest online community of creatives, hungry to spread the love of Jesus through the arts. There are tens of thousands of members, representing at least 60 worldwide countries in the Prophetic Arts for Jesus facebook group. We have grown a lot both in size and beauty, since I founded the group in late January of 2008.
With a name like Prophetic Arts for Jesus, as the title of our creative community, the subject of prophecy is a key topic which underpins who we are as a group of individuals. With so many countless people who call themselves a follower of Jesus, there are bound to be many understandings of what prophecy is, or should look like in action. All the more complex in a creative setting! So, how do we as a diverse body of people, come under the same roof in our creative community, and live out this key topic with a sense of unity? And just WHAT should prophecy be defined as for our group and, (dare I say), the wider creative community of Christians in our world today? Please stick with me. I ask everyone who is a member of my group, to read this and I hope others reading this post will find my thoughts helpful as you navigate this topic in your own life and community.
Firstly, you might be wondering how someone can prophesy using creativity, when on the surface, the Bible seems to only talk about prophecy as though it were a gift used with words! It’s an important thing to understand considering we are talking about prophecy in the context of a creative community of people. These days, God is doing a lot in the creative hearts of people in His Family around the world. He is teaching us how to use creativity to encourage the Body of Christ and draw people to Himself and even showing us examples of it in scripture. Creativity is proving to be a mighty Kingdom tool in the hands of creative Believers. People are taking Biblical instruction for prophecy and learning how to use it for God in creative ways. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend the book, Born To Create by Theresa Dedmon which is able to give more thorough attention to this wonderful topic.
Before I talk anymore about the connection between prophecy and creativity, let me turn to talk about prophecy itself. As a former children and youth ministry leader, I have yet to come across a better children’s curriculum covering the subject of prophecy, than the ABCD’s of Prophecy by Seth Dahl. This short curriculum was designed to equip and activate children (aged 4-10), in the gift of prophecy. I had the honor of going to ministry school with Seth and his gift with children is amazing. I feel like his very simple explanation of prophecy is something we can all grab hold of with ease.
I want to quote Seth from the teaching manual of his curriculum as he makes this seemingly complex matter, something young children can grasp.
In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul says to, “pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Later Paul also says, “You may all prophesy, one by one.” God wants the church to operate in this gift so much that He is willing to give prophecy to anyone who desires it. Because prophecy is a gift of the Spirit, not a reward, the ability to hear God speak to us for another person is not based on our behavior. It is His gift to us because of His goodness, not ours.
The reason He wants us to have this gift is because of what prophecy does. Look at what it says in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” These lessons will teach your children that edification is “to build up,” exhortation is “to cheer up,” and comfort is “to draw near.” This is what the gift of prophecy will always do.
Seth believes that one of the outcomes of the curriculum, is that children who are taught it will, “know that when they tell people what [God] says, those people will be built up, cheered up, and drawn near to Him.” I have seen this to be true about the gift of prophecy when it is pure in action. I believe that 1 Corinthians 14 is telling us, as Seth said, that the gift of prophecy should always build people up, encourage them and help them be drawn closer to God.
I feel that prophecy at its heart, simply breathes life into people. It tells people of the great exploits God dreams of for them and of the truly deep love He has for them. Everyone has gold deep within them. We are created beautifully. Prophecy calls out the gold in us. It calls us to be the greatest version of ourselves.
I have learned from many on the topic of prophetic ministry and the best I have ever learned from is Kris Vallotton. He wrote a manual called Basic Training for Prophetic Ministry, which I highly recommend. I’d encourage you to learn from Kris if you’d like a more full understanding of where I come from on this vast topic, but especially if you wish to learn more about prophetic ministry for yourself.
I understand some may feel prophecy can be a correctional tool in some instances. Especially when looking at that word “exhortation”. Traditionally, in modern Church history, we have often seen how people have been “exhorted” in a correctional manner. I have seen it myself countless times. 1 Corinthians 14:3 says, “He who prophesies speaks edification AND exhortation AND comfort to men.” We should find these existing alongside one another. If people are not feeling edified and comforted when they have been exhorted, something is wrong. I believe some can be drawn near to God when they feel the conviction of Holy Spirit. I also believe it is our job to encourage and build people up and it is God’s job to work out how to draw them to Himself. We cannot and should not try to be the Holy Spirit in anyone’s life. Nor should we use prophecy as a tool to judge people, thinking we are “loving them into the Kingdom”. I would go so far as to say, that could be classed as spiritual abuse.
I love people so deeply and I am happy to trust God that if I love people with judgement-free open arms, God is more than capable of drawing them to Himself, at the pace He knows is best for the journey they are on. We see in part, but God sees it all. I’d rather leave judging to Him and just love people into the Kingdom. Besides, anyone who can be argued IN to the Kingdom, can also be argued OUT of it. It is far better we help people encounter the great love God has for them, which began before they were ever born. Prophecy can be a wonderful tool to love people by building them up and encouraging them, which ultimately helps them see all the love God’s heart gushes with for them. A result can be hearts more able to embrace healthy spiritual balance moving forward. We want freedom for people and prophecy from the same heart of love that God lavished us with, is what’s needed for breakthrough.
I recognize love sometimes has boundaries to help people be safe. That is different than ruling with an iron fist, or having a heart to correct what we don’t like in another human being. This is about a condition of heart toward those we prophesy over. It should be gushing with love and compassion from above. I am not here to debate theology or doctrine, nor do I invite that to take place. There are other places for that. After years of Bible college, ministry school, discipleship school and personal study, I feel settled in my thoughts on this topic. I want you to understand what I believe should guide a creative community focused on prophetic ministry and how I guide the Prophetic Arts for Jesus community. A positive space where people feel safe to grow and encounter God deeply, is at the core of my heart for the creative community I lead. I know people will not get it right at times, because we all do. And, we can have hard discussions with honor and respect fully intact. I believe people mature faster, in the safety of a place where they do not feel judged or discouraged by others while trying to flap their wings.
Prophecy can be paired with creativity beautifully, through many forms of art which can speak to people in ways which simple words could not communicate as effectively. Paintings can convey a prophetic message of God’s great love for an individual, how His heart breaks for the pain they’ve endured, or how He views them as great, even in their broken season. Worship instruments and song sheets can gush with music that calls out the greatness people have lost somewhere along the way. Poems can help people identify with a greater sense of the purpose God has for them. The list goes on, and on, and on… Creativity is a tool which God loves to use when wanting to breathe life into people as individuals, or even corporately.
So to ask the question again, how do we as a diverse body of people, come under the same roof in our creative community, and live out this key topic with a sense of unity? We can define prophecy and how it looks in action, many different ways depending on our spiritual background.
We must focus on what we can agree on and leave aside what we know would bring dissension. What we can agree on is that everyone needs to be built up and encouraged. And, everyone needs to be drawn to God. We can also agree that creativity can have a part in helping people be built up, encouraged and drawn to Him. As creative Believers, we should aim to do just that.
In writing this blog post, I was reminded of a past season of my life when I was a Director of Education at a pregnancy care center. I led the community effort to reach teens in churches, schools and prisons alike, with the message of remaining sexually pure. We had incredible success with thousands of lives, which was an honor to lead. Part of my role involved working with and bringing together, leaders of churches from countless denominations and backgrounds, across three counties. Regardless of their backgrounds or disagreements about how the Christian life should be walked out, they could agree that young people should save themselves for their marriage partner and as leaders, we could help them navigate this sometimes tricky path.
Leaders would often comment to me how they would “not normally like to be in the same room with ‘so-and-so’ because of some differing perspectives, but this was for a good cause, so it could be tolerated”… This type of comment was commonly received by me at the time and I watched as hurt people, bravely put their differences aside to advance the Kingdom and impact lives. Some of those differing perspectives or deep rifts between people, were complex and painful. We have all found some relationships to be tricky to navigate at times, but we all work hard to overcome those difficulties with God’s grace behind us in the process. I grew to understand that if we focus on what we CAN agree on, our disagreements have less power over us as a community of people. We can be the unified Body of Christ while still remaining true to what convictions and perspectives we find non-negotiable. I often pray this be true of the creative community I lead and have found it thus far, to be the case with our beautiful group of people.
Some in the Prophetic Arts for Jesus community may have a different perspective of prophecy to myself as the leader of it. I would be surprised if they didn’t with so many thousands of us there! But, those who join in to our group actively, know I expect us to embrace the goal of building up and encouraging others through the creativity and communication we share together. And, that it should all point people to Jesus and His great love for us. Keeping our group focus encouraging, uplifting and positive has been one of our greatest attributes as a community and will continue to be a core value of ours.
I am not afraid at all of people having a different opinion or life-view than myself. And, we are all at different stages and perspectives in our journey with art which is wonderful! I welcome it as it adds to the diversity of who we are as a community. But I do not tolerate negative or disrespectful behavior toward others, nor work that does not encourage others and point them to Jesus. I have always worked hard to cultivate a place where prophecy is used with creativity to build up and encourage people while helping them draw closer to God. If people are not wanting to do that, there are plenty of other communities which may suit them better. I hope everyone in the group can see the positive environment I have worked hard to develop and will continue to work with me to keep that positive space we know and love as a community.
Prophecy in the wider Christian creative community, is something we are all learning to navigate in this new season of Church history. As far as I am concerned, prophecy must build people up, encourage them and draw them to Jesus. Prophecy delivered in a creative manner, should follow these core values and together, we can create a safe place for people to encounter God, draw near to Him and become the very best version of themselves through edification and encouragement they receive.
Will you work with me to create this place of creativity in your local area so together we can form a safer place to grow in God as His wider Family? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
You are loved. x