Written by Humilitee | Taken from a recent episode of the DailyPraiseRadio.com podcast.
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George W. Stewart is the pioneering founder of the Creative Nature of God movement, a GLOBAL vision which aims to fully celebrate, empower, and release the remarkable diversity of creative gifts that God has placed within and outside of the four walls of the church. A new wing of his well-known and celebrated non-profit organization The American Gospel Quartet Convention. Stewart has devoted over 30 years to providing platforms which identify and validate creative talents that often go unrecognized.
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In a recent interview, Stewart clearly explains the biblical reasons for his new movement and shares practical wisdom from experience in ministry on how churches can level up support for creative people. With compassion and zeal, he issues an urgent call for the church to commission all artistic gifts for the glory of God. With care and conviction, Stewart extends an invitation for faith communities to embrace the sacred worth in all creative gifts people carry - so that artists of every background may bless the body at their local assembly through their gifted work.
Stewart begins the conversation by highlighting a concerning blindspot he has observed, which is that some church settings tend to narrowly recognize or promote only a small category of “gifts” such as music, singing, instruments, or dance within their ministries. While these talents certainly carry great purpose, he believes the word of God identifies an exponentially wider spectrum of creative gifts. He believes man has been blessed with everything from incredible writing and storytelling gifts to bold entrepreneurial thinking and skills, visual artistry to technological innovation.
Stewart quotes James 1:17, which says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”, reminding us that ALL talents originate from God and should therefore be esteemed as sacred vehicles for his glory. Yet so many gifted writers, artisans, designers, and visionaries sit stifled on the sidelines Sunday after Sunday in local congregations because their gifts do not fit neatly into preconceived boxes.
Identifying this notable gap, Stewart suggests that denominations could benefit from adopting more inclusive and broad-minded theologies. These would acknowledge that the Spirit endows a diverse range of gifts, extending well beyond the traditional ones. The Bible itself displays how God pours his grace into manifold vessels. In Exodus 31, he fills Bezalel and Oholiab with wisdom and understanding to lead artistic works for the tabernacle. The Psalms exalt skillful musicians AND clever poets. Ecclesiastes admires creative enterprise alongside charitable service.
In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, we find extensive lists of diverse gifts, gently guiding individuals to acknowledge where God's influence is present in their lives. Both scripturally and historically, there are numerous examples of God assigning spiritual significance to various talents dedicated in faith. It would be beneficial for the church to reflect this appreciation for uniqueness and originality.
Providing Platforms for Unconventional Gifts: To manifest this value for unusual Kingdom gifts, Stewart shares an inspirational conference he organized called “Stirring of the Gifts”, which convened creative people from across denominational and ethnic lines. His goal was to give visibility, legitimacy, and freedom for multi-disciplinary talents rarely given prominence in traditional venues. What unfolded was a rich tapestry of improvised spoken word, visual arts, jewelry-making, culinary craft - united around ministering through their individual gifts.
Stewart describes the visible move of the Spirit upon both the artist and observer in these moments. Walls crumbled. Grace abounded. Life change occurred. In a simple yet profound way, this conference modeled the type of inclusive, gift-affirming environment the church must engender. No longer can writers, innovators and visionaries be relegated to lesser spheres. No longer can arts be partitioned from “spiritual”. Christ-centered community provides ample air for all gifts to breathe, meld, inspire.
The Church as a Dream-Killing Entity: With sincerity and a touch of sorrow, that many people with unique gifts have experienced significant rejection, misunderstanding, and suppression in faith communities. Their aspirations for purpose and influence often struggle to find space in environments that traditionally prioritize uniformity over diversity.
Stewart advocates for a thoughtful reflection and a shift in perspective concerning the marginalization of unique arts, innovators, and visionaries in our congregations. He suggests that when talents like poetry remain unrecognized, as in the case of a poet quietly writing in the pews without a chance to share, it's a loss for the entire community. Similarly, if a voice wanting to be used by God. The remedy for a culture that inadvertently stifles gifts could start with leaders recognizing the immense value of these diverse talents and actively creating opportunities for their expression and growth.
Releasing and nurturing unconventional gifts greatly enhances church life, embodying the transformation described in Isaiah 61 – turning ashes into beauty. When pastors adopt this humble approach, they can uncover vast visions, solutions, and works that are often overlooked within their own congregations. Gifts that Transcend Culture: Stewart points out that supporting specialized creative talents not only revitalizes joy and purpose within the church community but also presents significant opportunities for sharing the Gospel beyond church boundaries. Music, visual arts, writing, and other forms of expression naturally communicate through the universal language of spirit and emotion. These mediums have a special ability to cross societal divides. In line with Christ's mission, all creations filled with truth and beauty are meant to draw people towards Him.
For even the most traditional ministries, embracing this perspective can unveil fresh avenues for evangelism. Imagine a designer creating an ethical fashion line, an emcee producing inspiring music, or a filmmaker crafting redemptive movies – these endeavors can serve as authentic witnessing, drawing diverse groups with a truthful message of hope.
As barriers rapidly shift in postmodern society, highly relatable artistic voices enjoy an unprecedented boost in influence on social media. Thus to see the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” fulfilled in coming generations, the church must urgently identify, resource and send out unconventional creative gifts into mainstream channels. Souls hang in the balance. Dovetailing from this outsider opportunity, Stewart has a vision for how out the box creatives can use talents to expose more people to the Gospel. He frames leveraging gifts as a way creatives become "agents” for God’s kingdom.
Once credibility and trust is established, conversations about hope, purpose and redemption organically bloom. This approach allows truth, love and empathy to disarm hearts. Poignant stories humanize faith. Convicting songs spark dialogue. Films prompt reflection on morality. The gifted radiates irresistible light. Of course holy boldness is still in demand and patience also bears sweet fruit. As Jesus sent his followers out as sheep among wolves, we inhabit a precarious cultural moment requiring wisdom in proclaiming truth. How strategically will the church steward and mobilize this army of creative gifts? As Scripture promises, their talents make room for Gospel witness unavailable through traditional techniques.
Take Your Gift into Every Place
After relaying this birds-eye view of the untapped witness waiting through creative gifts, Stewart zooms into practical encouragement for individual creatives who may feel restless within church environments not optimized for their calling. Speaking as a fatherly mentor, he welcomes rising artists, innovators and visionaries to his new mission the Creative Nature of God movement inviting creatives to walk in the confidence that if God graciously imparted a talent - HE qualifies the called, period.
The pages of history reveal how often the sacred erupts from the fringe, gaining audience through the indomitable spirit of called change-makers. Of course, along this countercultural path come obstacles, delays and rejection even. Yet for the determined pioneer, Stewart reminds us that across 8 billion people globally, there exist receptive audiences longing for the unique purpose in life their gift bears. As long as the artist remains humble and faithfully seeks to glorify God over commercial profit, divine channels unfold. With assurance, Stewart points out that God will open doors and give provision for those audacious enough to remove constraints on long-suppressed gifts. The fields are ripe for the harvesters!
Your Gifts Will Make Room for You
In rallying language, Stewart quotes from Proverbs 18:16 that one’s gift “makes room” for a person and brings them “before great men” they could not access through natural means. This succinct statement summarizes the entire upside of fully embracing artistic gifts for ministry impact. Namely, operating intentionally in one’s unique creative blueprint, influence and opportunities completely unavailable otherwise. The gift becomes the passport.
Consider biblical examples like Esther, Daniel or Joseph. At times, direct talent cultivation within palace dynamics granted greater authority for representing Jesus than external religious officials possessed. The question becomes whether controlling institutions will humble themselves to develop, release and champion the peculiar gifts in their care today - or whether they compel innovators to launch movements outside denominational constraints. Regardless the path, authentic God-inspiration always discovers its audience. The church either hinders or accelerates impact according to the degree it perceives and empowers the unusual gifts within. In this telling crossroads, how we choose determines our scale of influence.
A Great Awakening
Resounding optimism bleeds through Stewart’s vision for how fully the creative gifts of the faithful holds world-shaking spiritual implication. Upon his travels, he observes the scale of pent-up calling among artists, innovators and visionaries who feel hampered within traditional church environments not designed to incubate their gifts. Stewart observes that postmodern generations are drawn to experiences that offer transcendent meaning, and a sense of community - areas where the church might sometimes find challenging to provide, but which creatives can naturally facilitate.
As society evolves rapidly, moving away from traditional Christian frameworks, there emerges a critical need and a tremendous opportunity for the church to harness its often-overlooked creative talents to influence culture. Stewart envisions a powerful movement of the Spirit, propelled by anointed arts, media, technology, and cultural expressions that can engage even those distant from traditional faith narratives. He anticipates a "great awakening," driven not by singular charismatic figures but by a widespread movement of creative individuals committed to their unique callings. This grassroots surge, he imagines, could spark global revival and redemption.
Echoing historical revivals, Stewart sees a shift from the commonplace to new heights of spiritual engagement. Just as previous movements of God brought marginalized voices to the forefront of society, Stewart now encourages today's creatives, innovators, and visionaries to dedicate their talents, collaborate, and channel divine creativity into the world's needs. United by a shared commitment to glorify Christ through excellence and truth, this collective creativity could potentially ignite a transformative awakening, surpassing even the most iconic historical revivals.
Summary and Conclusion
The primary goal of George W. Stewart's Creative Nature of God movement is to celebrate and spiritually empower the vast array of creative gifts God has bestowed upon humanity, directing them towards a positive cultural impact that glorifies Christ. With diplomatic sensitivity and a passionate conviction, Stewart urges faith communities to support and nurture the unique talents within their midst.
He presents this as both a matter of spiritual justice and a strategic opportunity for the Greater Commission. The unique gifts that have been historically overlooked or undervalued by the church now stand as crucial channels for expressing the Gospel in contemporary society. As traditional forms of religiosity become less prevalent, creatives play a pivotal role in integrating sacred values into secular mediums.
Despite any previous challenges or misunderstandings, these creative gifts inherently possess the divine capacity to influence cultural narratives. As the diverse talents within the global Christian community come together in unified mission, the potential for spiritual breakthroughs is limitless. Faith communities are thus encouraged to advance this awakening by wholeheartedly embracing and supporting their creative members as strategic gifts entrusted with the keys for the next Great Awakening.