Stewarding Creative Gifts

Telling the story of God’s work in the world through media production

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Sitraka Rakotoarivelo

Hi everyone, my name is Sitraka, and I am the Media Producer at Luther Seminary’s Faith+Lead. I’m here today to talk about my experiences with videography and production, as well as to encourage you to consider these skill sets more deeply and with more intention when it comes to the life of the church. Media production and creative gifts in general are usually either taken for granted or undervalued in ministry, but they have so much to offer and deserve thoughtful stewardship.

So we’re going to start at the beginning, with what got me interested in media production in the first place. I grew up in Cameroon, a country in central Africa. My parents were medical missionaries there, originally from Madagascar, and worked at the Protestant Hospital in the town of Garoua-Boulai – located right at the border of the Central African Republic and Cameroon. 

When I watch VHS tapes of my childhood there, I immediately remember my dad always having a video camera or photo camera with him…and those things definitely weren’t portable-friendly back then! He wanted to capture moments that future me would appreciate (and laugh at) and I’m so glad that he did! And of course I wanted to be like him, so that’s really what first sparked my interest in videography and photography. 

Now, with the mission and medical work my parents were doing for both local people in need and people who walked miles and miles to access the hospital, there were visitors from North America and Europe who would come and film their work. I remember thinking as a kid, “It’s so awesome that so many other people will get the opportunity to see this.” The ability to film and share this life changing work through video was mind blowing to me. 

Fast forward to high school, still living in Cameroon, but this time in Yaounde, the capital city. I went to a school called RFIS, Rain Forest International School. This school gave international students the opportunity to get a good education while their parents were out in the mission field. I met so many different people from different countries, and that’s when my passion for media creation really took off.

One of my roommates was really into video production for fun. I still remember making movies at our hostel, and the movie we produced was the reenactment of the siege of the Great Wall of China. Our hostel had pretty large concrete fencing, so we could really make the special effects look real, if you know what I mean. We had so much fun making it, and we didn’t really care about how fancy it looked, we were just fulfilled by creating something we enjoyed making.

And this brings me to being in the United States. I’ve always enjoyed using my gifts in media production everywhere I am. When I was part of an after school program, I taught video production and editing to students. We would have an end of the year party showcasing the projects the kids were working on; the joy these kids had when showing something they were really proud of creating was life-giving – it didn’t matter if it was perfect. Providing the space these kids could express themselves and grow was everything.

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to use my experience in media production everywhere I’ve been. My first job in the church was being a Youth Director, and the great part about it was their openness to use more media in ministry. I believe the one thing any church can do is have an openness to try something new. We are in a time where digital media is at the forefront of everything, and it can be difficult to think about diving into something you may think you’re not equipped for. 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31 is great to read when you want to try new things. The body of Christ is so gifted, and there’s such a vast pool of talent and resources available. When you really think about it, we’re not really starting something new, God is already at work in the world and we have opportunities to showcase what’s happening in creative ways.

For me, what I see standing in the way for churches when it comes to stewarding creative gifts like media production, photography, and more, is that they have a lot of self-limiting beliefs. For example, congregational leaders often assume you need a ton of resources to make a video or that only young people can do it. 

And while creating content that is meaningful and quality is important, that doesn’t always mean high production or a lot of resources. What’s most important is to be engaging, authentic, and to have fun with it … and, if you do have people in your church who are clearly gifted in these creative areas, really listen to them and give them the support to experiment and lead. We all have phones these days, sure, but there’s a lot more that goes into creating content than just snapping a quick photo or video. It takes vision and intent, and it’s important to really respect and uplift that, just like you would for preaching or music. 

In short, don’t take those creative gifts for granted – nurture them. And don’t be afraid to just get out there and try new things. God works through so many different mediums and gifts, and it’s so important that we steward them with respect and care.

  • Sitraka Rakotoarivelo

    Sitraka Rakotoarivelo is Faith+Lead's Media Producer. He currently lives in Minnesota, with his wife and their two cool cats. During his free time, you can catch him hitting hiking trails, snapping pics, or diving into the digital universe of video games. Fun fact: his name means "gratitude" in Malagasy, the language of Madagascar.

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