Joe Marshall Exclusive Interview

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

One thing I wish everyone knew about working in the creative ministry field is that your work for God is not a substitute for your relationship with Him.  This is something I found myself struggling with, and still work to actively balance daily.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the everyday tasks, and when you become task-oriented instead of God-oriented, you’re in a dangerous place: now you’re in the realm of “self-works,” which can lead to burn out.  That’s where I was for a season.  I was trying to do everything in my own strength and the work became harder and less joyful.  It wasn’t fun anymore.  Waking up was a struggle, inspiration was scarce and I found myself dreading assignments that I used to enjoy.  In all my work, I didn’t take time to feed.  I neglected my personal time with God, and even on Sundays I was always so busy working that I couldn’t receive what I needed.  I was trying to execute a God-given vision without God, which is a sure and easy way to exhaustion.  Luckily the fix is easily accessible, it just takes dedication.  I reorganized my priorities, putting my relationship and personal time with God above my work, and I watched my work begin to flourish once again.  It’s always wise to invite the creator to inspire your creativity.  Developing your personal relationship with God does just that, and I guarantee you’ll see your work soar to new heights as a result.

What has been one of the most frustrating parts of creative church ministry for you or your team? How did you overcome it?

One of the most frustrating parts of my creative church ministry experience is trying to inspire a creative culture in an environment where the culture has already been established, and creativity didn’t play a prominent role.  My church has always been open to change, but I came into a situation where things were done a certain way, leadership thought a certain way & volunteers performed a a certain way.  I wanted to change pretty much all of that, and it’s safe to say, I got a little push-back. That’s pretty much the situation that I came into, and at the beginning I often felt like God gave me all these amazing ideas but not the right team to execute them, which made me frustrated. Then I was reminded that I wasn’t only a creative director, I was now a leader, and a leader’s job isn’t just to come up with cool designs, its to inspire, cultivate and develop the God-given gifts within others.  So I’ve been working on my patience & vision casting, and I’m proud to say we’ve come a long way since my start in 2015.  I’m very thankful and proud of my team, and even though we haven’t reached our peak yet, I’ve seen great improvement and development in all of us, which encourages me for the future.

Tell us about the behind-the-scenes from the “It’s a Wonderful Life” production:

Film-making and theater are also big creative interests of mine, and I was blessed with the opportunity to co-write, direct and star in our original Christmas stage adaption of Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  This wasn’t a typical choice for a church Christmas Play, and that’s why I loved it.  I love it when the church is unpredictable and unexpected – when we do things that are outside the religious box we’ve created for ourselves.  That’s one of my biggest creative inspirations – to shatter that box and go where the church has not gone before.  In the play, there was music, dancing, comedy and the gospel all blended together like I’ve never seen done before in a church setting.  Projects like that inspire me to keep pushing the boundaries of what we think “church” is, and I believe the further away we get from doing things out of religious tradition, the closer we get to achieving feats of radical faith as Jesus did.

One thing I wish everyone knew about working in the creative ministry field is that your work for God is not a substitute for your relationship with Him.

A leader's job isn't just to come up with cool designs, it's to inspire, cultivate and develop the God-given gifts within others.

Tell us about the behind-the-scenes of your lobby redesign:

In September of last year, we redesigned our lobby.  We drew inspiration from Southwestern and Americana designs and weaved them together to create “The District” – a refreshment and relaxation area that we’re still designing to this day.  Like everything else we do, we tried to create something that existed outside the realm of what people traditionally expected a church lobby to look like.  I always encourage my team to think this way when creating – don’t create a church lobby, just design a great lobby and put it in a church.  Don’t design a church-stage.  Build a great, eye-catching stage and put it in a church. Sometimes our creativity can be limited by labels, and, in some cases, removing those labels unleashes creative ideas and thought processes that we may have otherwise blocked ourselves from exploring.

Joe Marshall

Creative Director of the VCMI-DC Campus

For now, I’m the only official employee of our church, so I wear a lot of hats.  I currently oversee our social media, graphics and media departments, but I pretty much dip my hands in everything to help out wherever I can.  For example, last year I led a campaign to redesign our stage and lobby.  My true passion is film-making and theater.  I’m currently the Drama Director at our church, and I have written, directed and starred in over 5 plays, several commercials and mini documentaries and an on-going comedy web series called “The Church.”