Nurturing Creativity

NURTURE: To care for and encourage growth or development.

Here are three things we need in order to nurture a community of creativity:


I know this seems obvious, but without a spark of inspiration or a small idea or thought, we simply don’t have anything to nurture.  

A couple of years ago, I was in the market for a new car. After a time of scouring and looking around town, I found a Hyundai Sonata in my price range that looked like a fancy Jaguar. What I began to notice after purchasing it and driving it around was that A LOT of people have them too. The point is this, before buying my car I had never seen one before. Correction, I had seen them, but I had no need to pay attention to them. 

This is very much the same as the beginning of songs, once we set our minds and hearts to ‘seeing’ ideas for songs, we see them everywhere. Just like my Sonata. 

I once heard these initial elements called “Song Seeds” and I loved it! These seeds can be found anywhere and they primarily come in 5 forms:

Lyrics - these can come from prayers, reading, sermons, books, movies

Melody - a series of notes played in succession

Rhythm - could be a groove played, or a rhythm of notes you like

Chords - can come from another song, or playing/practicing, creating a new sequence 

Concepts - these are themes we would like to write about, e.g. love of the Father, God has sustained us etc.

Each of us usually has one specific Seed that we see most often - mine are lyrics. But all of them are the right way to start a song! Collect often, pray for them often, and allow yourself to catch that spark of inspiration no matter where it comes from. 


I touched on this in one of the last blogs I wrote, but often we water a seed, we spend time on it, we add to the melody, chords, lyrics, etc., but sometimes it is hard to see the growth come quickly. We may find ourselves getting stuck and/or frustrated. I can honestly say that I’ve been there and struggled to come back from it.

But here is what I have learned; every time I invest into a song, even if I think nothing has come of it and it seems the same at the end as when I began, I choose to think that I am thirty minutes closer to the song being finished. I might have three hours of approaching the song and leaving empty-handed before it grows into something beautiful, but I have to see the process through, and even see the empty handedness as okay and not get frustrated by it.


For me, the best way to nurture creativity is through community. We as humans were built by God for community. We need each other! We need the wisdom of others, we need other’s strengths to meet our weaknesses, we need to receive words of encouragement and we need to give them.

I know that sharing the things you have created with others can be frightening. What we have to do is trust that the product of a healthy creative community far outweighs and outshines the product that can come from us alone.

We have to remind each other that we are all on the same team, that we are all fulfilling the commandment of “singing a new song to the Lord”, we need to celebrate one another, and rejoice in every song seed, every thirty minute 'empty handed’ session, and sing aloud each others triumph in completing a song.

I personally have a few like-minded creatives around me that I run everything by. I trust them, their opinions and their unique gifts. I also trust them to hold me accountable to my creativity. It is in this atmosphere that my creativity grows and is nurtured to a greater level then it could have ever been by myself.


Jennie Reynolds is the Artist Track teacher at Ocean's Edge School of Worship. She is an excellent teacher, music artist, musician, wife and friend. Learn more about Jennie

Song Story // Higher Than I


Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
5 For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
6 You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
7 He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.

I first read this Psalm in 2013. It wasn’t the first time that I had read it, but it was the first time that the words came alive in my heart. It was a simple prayer of deliverance that I found myself uttering just as the psalmist David had done hundreds of years before.

As a songwriter there are moments we have that we long to capture in song, and this for me was one of them. The words "higher than I" to me longed to be sung. So I logged it in a book of ongoing ideas, and there it remained until April 2014.

I know the date because this is when for us at Calvary Chapel, our hearts grew heavy and overwhelmed, just as the psalm described, with the announcement that our senior Pastor at the time would step down due to moral failure. Our world was shaken, our church very much in shock, and our hearts mourning for that which we had lost.

It was not long after that some of the women from our department were offered a time to meet with Suzanne Sauder, just to allow us to express how each of us were doing and the thoughts and fears we had since the news. We gathered, we shared, and we prayed.

At the end of our time Susanne shared the verse that she had been clinging to. Psalm 61:2;

"From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I"

Oh how our God is in all things! He knows all things before they ever come to pass. He that will sustain us and carry us, our shelter, forever. In every season we can imagine and every one we could never fathom, still our God will lead us.

The song was finished in 2016. Start till finish, I have seen our God be ONLY faithful. He has never wavered in leading us, He is our shelter even in the unimaginable, and for that He is worthy of all honor and praise.

The Collection IV

The Collection IV

A quarterly collection & review of the latest worship releases.
Special Edition: 2016 Christmas Albums.

We love listening through new worship albums. Join the conversation on Twitter by telling us your favorite songs and how they're influencing your community @_calvarymusic. Click on the titles to purchase these albums from iTunes

Songwriting: The Fight of The Creative

The Journey Begins

I was working on a song recently. I wanted it to be congregational; I wanted it to be catchy, easily sing-able. I wanted all the lyrics to be fresh and new, but also speaking of something eternal. In my opinion, goal setting is good in songwriting. I think writing for a theme, a particular tempo, or key (male or female, or both, range!) is important. It’s good because if something doesn’t fit your parameters, you scrap it and keep moving. Momentum is key in songwriting. If you’re not moving forward, you’re probably stuck. Here is the flip side of this.  

As I was working on this song, every line I wrote just wasn’t good enough–every melody felt cheesy, every chord sounded bland, and don’t get me started on the second verse…because, well, it didn’t exist. After about an hour of wrestling through, I was ready to call it quits. My initial excitement had given way to frustration. So, I walked away from the song. 

I think if we are even remotely creative, we are probably our own worst critics. Even before someone else hears a twinkle of our song, we have already cast great judgment upon it.

Eight years into songwriting, with many contrasting seasons, I know this: God is interested in the journey. And what I have realized (and am still realizing) is that songwriting is not the exception to this rule but is very much in the center of it. 

The creative process is more important than the outcome. 

When I write what I think is a bad lyric/melody/song, how I react becomes important in the process. If I get frustrated, I could end up walking away. When I think of the process of songwriting, I very much want it to reflect strength of my character. I want in the frustration to seek God, in the disappointment to believe that it is purposed for growth. When feedback comes, when I share the song and the response isn’t what I expected, I want to be marked with humility. I think songwriting can be purposed not just to spark truth in the hearts of those who hear a finished song, but it can spark and grow truth in the writer, as they write it.

I think parameters are good. I had an idea for a theme for a song and even came up with a first line. Then I set some parameters for it. I decided I wanted it to be slow, mellow. I wanted the chorus to lift a little but not to become a ballad, and I wanted the bridge to be the highest point of the song. I chose to take every idea and move with it, even if I knew it wouldn’t be the final, I wanted to keep moving. I sang through lyrics that I knew wouldn’t work, but kept them untill I found the ones that did. I smiled through the bad melodies, and laughed at the terrible chords that weren’t working. You should hear my voice memos. I found that even in the midst of what I would have once deemed a failure or even a waste of time, I found joy and hope that I was once step closer to finishing the song. 

I hope for you that if you have lost joy in songwriting you let God rekindle it in the journey, and if you are just starting out then don’t be surprised if frustration creeps in. Remember the journey of the song is important. Don’t lose heart. 

Jennie Reynolds is the Artist Development teacher at Ocean's Edge School of Worship. She is an excellent teacher, music artist, wife and friend. Learn more about Jennie

5 Tips For Starting A Song

Where To Begin?

The start can often be the most difficult part in the process of writing a song.
Here are some ideas to inspire you:

1. Keep a journal of ideas–write down everything that sparks you interest!
Unique title ideas, something someone said in a conversation, a metaphor you thought of on your drive home... all of these have the potential to be a start to a great song! I've been guilty of pulling out my phone and recording prayers, conversation, and sermons because the language or concept was so inspiring. Write them down and look them over often, get your wheels turning.

2. Record everything.
Ideas can be fleeting. How many of you have had a killer melody dance through your head as you drift to sleep and you think, "Surely, I'll remember that in the morning." Next thing you know, the night disappears and so does that melody. Snatch your phone and record melody ideas, even "bad" ones. 

3. Become a "thief."
Catch a concept you've seen done well and explore your own way of expressing it. 
 “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.” –Jim Jarmusch

4. Play a progression.
Play a progression on your guitar or piano, or ask a friend, and sing over it. Sometimes chords and cadences can spark a melodic idea or a lyric that fits the vibe. 

5. Write for a cause or need.
Consider current events or the needs of a loved one. Are they hurting? Are they growing up? Are they excited about new love? Songs are a great way for people to process how they feel. Not everyone has the gift of writing, so think about what other might need to express and write for them.

There's really no "wrong" or "best" way to start a song. Do whatever works for you in the moment! If you always start the same way, that's fine. If it looks different every time, that's fine too. Inspiration usually comes to those who are looking for it, so open your eyes!

Nia is our social media + web content coordinator, as well as a worship leader and writer. She is fascinated with art and the powerful vessel it is for the Gospel. Learn more about Nia.

Creating From Acceptance

What is Art?

Art communicates what we feel, it is storytelling through any medium. Art explores our heart’s corners, and displays the findings for others to sigh in agreement (or, sometimes, disagreement). Leo Tolstoy in his dissertation What Is Art? describes it in the best way:

“Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings and also experience them.”

Embracing Vulnerability

Art is extremely vulnerable. You’re letting someone else take a peek inside the crowded room of your heart and mind, the place where your experiences, ideas, hopes and fears dwell. There's no way around it. You either bare it all in full-blown authenticity, standing tall before every kind of response, or you play it safe behind your walls. Insecurities pretend to keep you safe. They don't keep you safe, they keep you hidden. And hiddenness produces shame. Instead, learn to acknowledge your weaknesses and, if necessary, change. 


Your best, most authentic, expressions will be created from a place of acceptance, not for acceptance. Creating for acceptance, approval, and affirmation will exhaust you. I don’t believe that a reality of full acceptance can be achieved apart from Jesus. When you recognize that you are fully accepted in Christ, you can create from a security that is immovable. Should you disagree, I still sincerely hope that these thoughts about security and acceptance encourage your creativity.

Create from a place of acceptance and you can:

  • Be brave with your art
    You can forsake that frenemy of yours–fear! You can be confident that you are enough as you create, insecurity is longer the leader of your art.

  • Take risks and “fail”
    You can try new things and discover from your experiences what works for you and what doesn't’t.
  • Grow from criticism
    You no longer have to fear what people will say. You can take every remark into consideration and then keep what is helpful and discard what is hurtful.
  • Blaze your own trail
    You don’t have to copy what by nature would be inauthentic to you. You are free be “weird.”
  • Find meaning and purpose
    You can pursue purposeful expression and forsake the debilitating obligation of creating art to please others.

May you have the courage to push forward in the face of fear and discover how beautiful, loved, and accepted you truly are. From there your art will blossom in a freedom you never knew was possible. 

Nia is our social media + web content coordinator, as well as a worship leader and writer. She is fascinated with art and the powerful vessel it is for the Gospel. Learn more about Nia.

10 Years of Ocean's Edge

You're invited

We're celebrating 10 years of Ocean's Edge School of Worship! We've seen over 300 students become a part of this tribe and take what they've learned to cities and churches all over the world. #CelebrateTheHarvest with us June 9th, 10th & 11th by attending The Show at the Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Theatre. Get your tickets HERE.

Songwriting Talk | Matt Stinton

Last week, we got the opportunity to hangout over FaceTime with Matt Stinton, a worship leader and songwriter from the Bethel Redding community. He shared about the culture among writers at Bethel, his thoughts on co-writing, inspiration, and the struggle between creativity and criticism. Here are some takeaways from Matt's Songwriting Talk to explore as you pursue your artistry.

"Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just get to work." - Chuck Close

It can be extremely disappointing (and unrealistic) to expect that you can sit down and write a song in an hour, when you haven't really been writing consistently. You can't rely on just waiting for inspiration, you need to be working at your craft and creating without it. 

The more you write, the more you write.

The best way to write a song is to write the way that you write. Whatever way works for you is the right way. Go with the ideas you have and don’t force a fit or a box.

When critiquing starts, creativity stops.

This TEDtalk describes evidence for how the creative part of your brain and the critiquing part of your brain can't function together at the same time. Learn to turn off the inner critic while you're creating art. 

Songs are encounters waiting to happen;
they change people.

Relationships don’t flourish without vulnerability and neither do songs. The more honest you can get as a songwriter, the more impact your songs will have, all for the purpose of touching lives.

Keep track of your ideas somewhere.

If you don't sing an idea into your phone or write it down, you'll likely forget it!


Having something to prove is terrible motivation and will leave you exhausted. Feeling like you have to do it all on your own may keep you from finishing a song, a rob someone of the encounter their soul needs.

It’s okay to have people you write better with.

Writing cold turkey with someone can be tough, better to start a song, take the ideas to someone and ask for help. And you don’t have to keep every idea that they offer you. When it comes to song splits, setup a system ahead of time that will protect you both from any tension if ideas do/don’t get used. It’s always better to err on the side of generosity. 


Get connected with Matt STinton.

Honest Art - Bono & Eugene Peterson

In this short film, Bono and Eugene Peterson in their admiration for the Psalms give challenge to Christians to create "honest" art, art that expresses the true natures of the human soul and the true nature of God. Surely, half the time there is an uncomfortable clash between the two some of us fall into the trap of hiding. Instead, Bono and Peterson encourage Christians to walk the line. At the very least, a thought provoking discussion revealing through the Psalms that Jesus is not Lord solely in spite of our circumstances, but through them. His mighty holiness is revealed perfect through our weakness. 

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10