Dan Stevers Exclusive Interview

Where are you in life right now and how does that affect what you create?

As a 33 year old follower of Christ, spouse, part-time stay at home dad, and business owner I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to strike a perfect balance between all the roles in my life and I’m okay living in that tension. Because I have limited work hours I want to make sure that every project I work on has the potential for maximum impact. As a result I try to resist moving forward on interesting or novel ideas–regardless of how cool or fresh they might seem–if I don’t sense the Holy Spirit’s leading in it. The cool, novel video may get some attention but it won’t lead to breakthrough. I’ve learned over time that videos can say all the right things and still be noise.

Describe your typical schedule, what do you do in a typical day/week?

My role has shifted over the years from a one-man studio–doing everything from writing to animation–to a producer role where I’m occasionally writing and animating but more often than not my role is to keep all parts of the production moving towards the same end. I’m part director, part project manager, and part cheerleader.

 What keeps you going in creative ministry:

Everyday I’m confronted with the fact that I have no idea how I ended up in ministry. I don’t feel qualified or capable of equipping, inspiring, or teaching the church through my work. My story simply consists of a thousand little decisions to step outside of my comfort zone as I tried to follow God’s leading. And at a certain point you look up and have no idea how you ended up where you are save for the grace of God. So I love not knowing where those small steps of faith will lead me in the future.

Describe one thing you wish everyone knew about working in the creative ministry field and why it is important:

Making videos for the church as a whole presents a bit of an existential dilemma. I don’t know who is going to see my work and in what context. I don’t know their story or anything about their walk with God so there’s no way to tailor a video to reach everyone. But what I can do is to find a person in my life who needs to hear a particular message and to choose every word and visual with that person in mind. Creating art for public consumption can be incredibly daunting so this focus on a single viewer helps inform the thousands of little design and writing decisions throughout the process.

Describe how you overcome difficult situations in Creative Ministry:

In my experience churches tend to favor media with messages that are “preachy”– confrontational rather than conversational. When I started out I made videos that were black and white: “Here’s the gospel–deal with it.” But after a decade of making art for churches I’ve become much gentler in my approach. I’m more interested in starting a conversation than sealing the deal. Shouting causes people take a step back whereas whispering has a way of making people lean in.

Shouting causes people take a step back whereas whispering has a way of making people lean in.

I’ve learned over time that videos can say all the right things and still be noise. God has a specific message he wants to communicate through every project so it’s important that I press in until I find it.

Describe your work/life balance:

The affirmation that comes from the likes, comments, and downloads after posting a new piece of work is white hot but fades almost instantly. So as tempting as it is to put in the long hours on projects and to tell myself that I’m sacrificing for my family or the gospel, I know that it’s a lie and that I want a piece of the glory and recognition. There is nothing noble about sacrificing your presence as a spouse or parent in the search of growing a ministry or business. Set boundaries and stick to them.

If you have (or could) build a creative team or atmosphere, what are some of the key elements you would include?

I try not to gauge the success of a project by sales or downloads. If a video is a commercial failure but it’s exactly the video I felt called to make then I chalk it up as a win. If God connects with a single person in a powerful way through a project then that’s more important to me than making lifeless art that sells well.

Describe how you find inspiration or inspire your team:

I like to get away from my computer at the start of a project as I’m more interested in a dialogue with God than the latest staff pick on Vimeo. There is a time and a place to start looking for inspiration from other artist’s work but that can’t be my starting point or it will end up as style with no substance. God has a specific message he wants to communicate through every project so it’s important that I press in until I find it. The visuals always come second. They are not an afterthought; they’re simply the means of communicating the message so it’s important to not put the cart before the horse.

The affirmation that comes from the likes, comments, and downloads after posting a new piece of work is white hot but fades almost instantly. So as tempting as it is to put in the long hours on projects and to tell myself that I’m sacrificing for my family or the gospel, I know that it’s a lie and that I want a piece of the glory and recognition. There is nothing noble about sacrificing your presence as a spouse or parent in the search of growing a ministry or business. Set boundaries and stick to them.

Tell us about the behind-the-scenes on one of your projects:

My production process always feels like an abysmal failure until the last 10%. The key is to press on even though it’s not sitting together quite right. Sometimes the simple tweak or solution that will make a project click comes in the home stretch but you’ve got to press on through the feelings of failure until you get to that point. That’s why I view every project is a test of my fortitude. Can I hang in long enough to see it come together?

Dan Stevers

Founder of DanStevers.com

In 2005 with no prior experience in video production, Dan volunteered making videos for his church in San Diego, CA. That role led to a fulltime position where for seven years he was responsible for conceptualizing, writing, and animating creative video pieces to communicate the gospel.

In 2009 DanStevers.com was launched to resource the global church with creative Christ-centered worship media.

No longer a one-man studio, Dan now collaborates with artists around the world to create beautiful worship media.