A few weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Bethlehem Church in Bethlehem, GA, to lead a fun, photography-intensive, 2 day workshop on how to build their own church photography team. When I arrived on that sunny and warm August afternoon, they had asked me to meet them at a lake at Fort Yargo State Park, where they were scheduled to baptize more than 70 people! Being able to photograph and document someone’s decision to go public with their faith is at the top of our list of honors as church photographers, and as creatives, that we get to capture. When the church asked if I could come share in it, I knew it would be the best way to start to our photography workshop. Now, keep in mind, I drove four hours to Georgia straight from serving at Elevation Church Lake Norman that morning, and was still in my pleather black pants and black shirt (because we always wear all black when we shoot) when I arrived at the park for the baptisms.

I made it just in time for them to start heading from the covered area up the hill down to the beach area of the lake. And there was no time to change my clothes. I just grabbed my camera out of the car as soon as we got there and headed to the lake. I saw there were five pastors going deeper in the water, like waist deep, and the line of people were anxiously waiting to go in. And then it hit me. In order to get the shots I want and do it with excellence, because dang it, God gave me this gift and this opportunity; I’ve got to go waist deep in this water…with this $3,000 camera…in my black pleather pants…and make it work. Side note – God doesn’t call us to do easy things. It’s always uncomfortable, it’s always something that stretches us, it’s always something that is going to mold us into a better, healthier individual. We would NEVER learn from anything if there wasn’t a struggle to remind us He is the one who has a plan. A plan which is going to see us succeed and prosper, in abundance.

So, I did it.

I decided to buck up and be committed to what God has called me to do, because it’s not about us when we are serving in our calling as creatives; it’s about serving Jesus, His church, and serving others. God only asks us to do one thing: Be obedient. He will do the rest. When you start your first day on a photography team, it’s going to feel overwhelming. It’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s going to feel like no matter how long you have been a photographer, you don’t know what you are doing. You will feel unqualified. But guess what? That is exactly where you need to be. Because if we walked into something knowing everything, we wouldn’t need Him. If God gave you the passion and talent in photography, He gave you a calling in it. Your passion is there to help drive you to your purpose.

The best place to operate and grow in your calling is by using it in ministry. We are not called to be consumers of our church, we are called to be participants.

The stories of the lives of the people who were forever changed that day in the lake, I will never forget. I will always remember the 80 year old man, who they called Paw Paw, who had just three days before decided to give his life to Jesus. His act of obedience led his 10 year old granddaughter, who tearfully watched her grandfather walk into the lake and come up out of the water rejoicing, decided herself to be baptized the same day. I photographed small, smiling, beautiful Lydia, wipe the tears from her dad’s face as he uttered to her, “Lydia, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

These moments are not just etched in someone’s memory. The emotion and raw, unending joy and life change is sealed in a photograph for not only the participants to have to tell their stories, but for the church to be able to use to minister to others.

So, it’s time to buck up, grab your cameras, set up your laptop with Lightroom ready to go. You know your calling, you know your purpose. It’s time to go waist deep… in your pleather pants… and launch your photo team.

How? It’s coming in next month’s issue…

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