Alan Briggs wears many hats. He’s the Director of Frontline Church Planting, the Multiplying Pastor at Vanguard Church, a consultant with Stay Forth Designs, a public speaker, and an author of three books. The common thread in all these roles is his desire to help people become who God designed them to be.
“We use the word ‘design’ a lot—in life design, ministry design, impact design,” says Alan. “It comes down to living your life instead of your life living you.”
For church leaders, this translates into not doing what every other pastor is doing, and avoiding the patchwork quilt ministry that often feels inauthentic. The unfortunate challenge with adding creativity into the mix is the pushback that comes with an unshared passion for change.
“Not all of your creativity is going to be welcomed in every space that you’re in,” explains Alan. “Just because you possess that gift, desire, or quality, don’t expect people to be as passionate about it as you are. They haven’t seen, felt, or tasted it yet.”
This lack of aligned vision shouldn’t discourage big risk, however. Speaking from experience, Alan turned to his own advice to “just do it” to author three books in three years. Discipline only helped him improve the process, and fulfill the dream hanging at the top of his to-do list.
“When artists begin to grind and stay connected, it’s life giving to the soul,” says Alan.
Sadly, the more stressed we get, the more excuses we make to get the job done. Excuses, combined with risk, often lead to vulnerability and squashed dreams. In the long term, it limits our potential in the world.
That’s why Alan always goes back to flow and rhythm, even with habits like the Sabbath, exercise, and writing. Most importantly, he relies on mentors and friends to keep him accountable on big ideas.
“We all feel that fear,” says Alan. “That’s when it becomes vulnerability and courage. But deep down, I believe everyone’s a genius, because what is excellence? . . . It’s the best you have at that moment.”
Touching on this very subject, Alan’s recent book, Everyone’s A Genius, discusses the church acting as an affirming group, community, family, and team open to expression and risk. This concept breaks the mold of many churches that are trying to mitigate risk, unsure of what to do with the eager creative longing to express an evolving palette of wild ideas. That’s when desire to uniquely serve often turns into a volunteer spot in security, parking, hospitality, or other areas where that person might not be shaped for ministry.
“We’re assessing for the wrong end,” explains Alan. “We’ve hurt, limited, stifled, and silenced people in the means. But the reward in taking that risk—in validating a creative—is what comes out of that partnership; it’s the sacred that is brought to the surface by way of creativity.”
This notion of “what gets celebrated gets done” leaves leaders in a position to become archeologists of story, to figure out what people are actually doing outside the box.
“If gifts are only organized as ways to serve the church body, and not the community, than we’ve already lost,” he says. “What are we doing that is connecting people well and our endeavors to apply that?”
Honing in on this concept, Alan relies on the concentric circles of home, neighborhood, and city. In each area, he acts as a curator to celebrate artists and give people legitimacy to reach the community. The ultimate goal is to help people grow and win in their gifts and creativity.
“The more you help other people get what they want, the more you get what you want,” Alan says. “Suddenly there’s the blessing that flows backwards. As the wave hits, the energy is transferred into another wave. This is what makes a genius — Living God literally blowing through us. This is what makes creativity —opening the window of our soul and letting the Spirit flow in.”
To learn more about Alan Briggs and his ministry, visit stayforth.com.