99U Making Ideas Happen

As the ambassador for 99U Local in Cincinnati (coming September 2015), I had the joy of joining 1000 creatives in NYC last week for the 99U 2015 conference. I'll be posting more on this in the weeks to come. Suffice it to say it was a remarkable city, a compelling experience, and I've met a number of great people leading in their fields whom I'd count it an honor to partner with in the years to come.

The 30 ambassadors chosen from around the world to lead local 99U events in their cities. 

The 30 ambassadors chosen from around the world to lead local 99U events in their cities. 

Upcoming Retreats

For folks in the midwest I'm excited to share two upcoming opportunities. If you or someone you know is in the rush of creating things—art, public change, startups, or faith communities— you know the importaince of resting and taking a look at the overall process of your work. You also might have discoverd the significance of what Richard Rohr has called active contemplation.

In May I'm leading two retreats designed to help creatives and activists in observing their process and taking up contemplative practices to address creative block or simply sustain balanced, generative work.

In Lousiville, Ky from May 1-3 I'll be facilitating Drawn In Retreat for Creatives curated by the fine folks from The Soul Care Project. And May 15-16, I'll be curating the Chicago Life as Art retreat sponsored, in part, by the Chicago Sunday Evening Club.

I hope you'll consider being a part of one of these great events, half of the magic is the variety of talented people who come together to share and reflect on their work. Stay tuned for details about upcoming retreats in Charlotte, Cincinnati, and LA.

Life as Art Retreats

Life as Art retreats are 2-3 days onsite events. Participants come away with:

  1. a design process model for observing creative flow
  2. repeatable methods to more easily partner with others and the everyday ingredients of life
  3. repeatable mindfulness practices that create detachment from our outputs while increasing our productivity and capacity to adapt.
  4. a network of fellow practitioners adopting a 40 day followup plan utilizing process, methods and practices.

My more than 15 years of back ground in spiritual direction and nonprofit leadership have helped develop workable modules and retreat methods that move between learning styles and build upon the strength of those participants in the event. 

Here is a longer sheet describing a typical Life as Art event. Customizable events are available for design firms and organizations. 

See upcoming retreats.

Fall Retreat for Creatives

“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives” —Annie Dillard


A few weekends ago I had such a blast facilitating a daylong Life as Art retreat designed for participants in diverse professional fields. It turns out balance and intentional practices are as significant to this crowd as it is to faith leaders. We shared a morning of deep conversation, courageous introspection, and intentionality about the kind of lives we’re making.

We explored the relationship between our "art work" and our "life's work". I unpacked insights from design thinking and creative psycology, and everyone ended with action steps or everyday contemplative practices to honor and breathe through blockages in life or work. I also had the benefit of great feedback from friends who stepped back at the end of the day to observe my art of retreat curation. It was a great time had by all.

Special thanks to my friend, Aaron Davis, who helped layout an outstanding guide book filled with prompts I’ve written, supporting quotes from poets and subject matter experts, and images from photographers, installation artists, and painter friends of mine. But more than the materials, the real magic is always the participants.

Here’s some of what participants shared:

"I appreciated hearing how others struggle and learning tools to push past being stuck"—Hosptital Family Services Director

"I enjoyed the speace to zoom out and learn and reflect on my large life's work" —Tatoo artist

"I loved how well thought out this was, relaxed and welcoming" —Teach for America teacher

"I apprecaited identifying practices to be more intentional with my life" —Non profit fund developer

"I loved being able to offer myself without worrying about other people's values" —Community Develpment Consultant

"I enjoyed having space to create, discuss, listen, and learn. I'd love to have an opportunity like this for my whole team!" —Environmental Engineer Consultant

Letting Go

“We think that its best for Neighbors Abbey that you no longer be Presbyterian” were the words she said. But what I heard was: “Just 3 years in we’re backing out of our 7 year grant commitment, and now you have 6 months to double your annual fund raising from $25k to $50K.” It reminded me of the arrows I shot in scouting camp as a kid. Hers landing dead center. Mine… well I’d pulled the string but there was no chance it was gonna go where I’d aimed. Not any more. I didn’t even have to watch to find out...

Read the rest of this post at the Deeper Story blog.

The Irony isn't Lost on Me


Welcome everyone just finding me because of Paraclete Press' promotional week for Drawn In(if you don't know you can get books for $7 the rest of this week)! So many friends and family have helped me get the word out, I'm overwhelmed. It's no small thing to ask people to share their social media clout. This got me thinking about that thin line between being driven and drawn that creatives and pastors share.

Often our very passion about getting to an audience can can cut them off from the thrust of the art we make for them. When people aren't given the freedom to opt out the artist is taking something importaint from their audience- agency. Without agency, consumers of art are simply used to propulgate our art. When this continues they become more and more dependent on "expert" or "attractive" producers. They become less able to see and hear between the line, less literate.

Here's a bit from the 9th chapter in Drawn In:

While propaganda and marketing employ the skills of artistic process they do not include others outside of their goals in that process. Not only that, but when propaganda and marketing complete their tasks the holders of the art rarely trust the process enough to take their own risks. In fact, consumers of propaganda and marketing become even further dependent upon the producers of those artifacts and less and less capable of making life for themselves. Urban organizer and poet Ross Talarico calls this “de-literacy.” It is the outcome of systematically taking the agency away from a citizen by co-opting or replacing all their language and symbols for external purposes (page 144 Drawn In)

So the irony is not lost on me that this week's $7 promotion is clearly about marketing, and falls under this type of critique. I've spent the last week emailing, calling, messaging friends and writing collegues asking them to share about Drawn In. While I tried to leave open spaces for folks to opt out, I am not deluded into thinking that this is purely for art or community sake.

My new friend Byron at Hearts and Minds Books called me out on this. He wrote a kind review of Drawn In in the winter and when I asked him to promote this sale he repied graciously back that my request was a little insulting. Here he is a book seller, who buys from publishers and yet my promotion was cutting him out entirely. In my own efforts to promote my art I had forgotten his trade and his identity. Thanks, Byron, for that reminder about the importaince of community.

But marketing can do more than cut out income streams. It can eventualy seperate the consumer from the product to the point that people do not realize their own role in making products—their agency. This is what I hope to point out in the post here. Byron is making great things, and it's my hope to do the same. So long as we all work towards increased trust and interdependence (re-integration) then we can accomplish much more together. It not simple. But the complexity is a beauty all of its own.

If you're new to my blog or just coming back around because I'm finally posting again, welcome. I look forward to the conversation and community that we could form!

Oh yeah, and pick up a copy of the book.

Drawn In Release Party

Thank you to all the folks who made Friday night such a great event!  There were poems read, toasts given, songs written, led, and plenty of sine, pizza, pies, coffees, laughs and tears shared.  I am so grateful to have a group of friends and colleagues forming in Cincinnati.  It was a blast! Special thanks to the folks at Moria's Pies, Deeper Roots Coffee, and Jay Valerio for the food and drinks.


Drawn In Release

Its out TODAY!  Check out Amazon or Paraclete Press  to get a copy (it will be out on Kindle later in the month.  If you're in Cincy or want me to mail you a signed copy shoot me at note at troy (at) ChurchAsArt (dot) com.

Here are a few excerpts:

God was so enthralled with a life of loving connectedness that God loved into existence a world with the same potential. Like a painter setting out with an end in mind, God imagines and engineers a world continually unfolding as an expression of God’s own original love. It’s almost as if God were standing at the future, lovingly drawing creation forward. 

Each time God’s Spirit shows up, she is hovering over the unexplored potential. God does not rush the process.  From the very beginning of time as scripture depicts it, we see the Spirit of God, as a patient artist, okay with the “unfinished” potential in the story. God is at home with things as they unfold.

As God’s creative project unfolds, each session’s work seems to speak to God as well about the next day’s work. The kind of listening we are talking about is not the same as acknowledging noise or words. This is at the core of what it means to be an artist: perceiving. The potter, the poet, and the person who prays each have to read between such lines. They have to listen through to what is felt at the core.  Jesus used a quote about this from Isaiah in defense of his use of parables. Some, he said “ seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand” (Mat 13:13 NRSV). 

Art is like life in this way: the raw ingredients, the various materials and mediums that you intentionally engage with affect the art you make... Focusing on process alone would be like describing a painter without talking about the choices in pigment and canvas, without asking about the use of perspective, color, or tone, and with no attention to the place or day and age in which she painted. Its like an actor reading a script cold, no background story, no research, no setting, posture, accent or pathos. Attention to process it enriched by when we pay as much attention to the ingredients.

This is a book for the driven in us all, those activists, creatives, and passionate Jesus people who can develop creative block when we avoid risk or rest.


I'm excited for the many pieces yet to come.  Jonathan Stegall, Travis Eckmark and Jason Orme have been working on an updated troybronsink.com website that should roll out soon.  The folks in Cincy meeting weekly for a book creative group are helping develop group materials, and some plans for a video trailer and possibly more are underway.

I'm curently setting tour dates for 2013, to speak as well as share music.  If interested please shoot me a note about that as well.


Announcing Drawn In

I'm thrilled to announce the release of my upcoming spiritual & creative leaders book, Drawn In.  Its designed for artists, activist, and Jesus followers looking for ways beyond the Right-Brain drain and culture wars of modern Christianity. I walk readers through emerging design thought and ancient practices using biblical and pop culture imagery. While utilizing design models its more poetic than didactic in its approach. It is my most exciting work yet toward expressing my passion that beauty and creativity can draw both the church and artists into deeper collaboration with God and God's kingdom!

Here's what folks are saying:


“...A book that combines the passion of the Wild Goose Festival and the creative insights of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, with a dash of “new monastic” spirituality and a pinch of Brueggemannian theological sensibility... Great exercises. Excellent for small group discussion.”

– David O. Taylor, editor of For the Beauty of the Church

“This fresh vision of God and ourselves draws us (rather than drives us) into a new way of being. Drawn In will introduce many to a gifted writer, reflective artist, and practical theologian sure to contribute much to the life of the church for decades to come.”

– Brian D. McLaren, author of New Kind of Christian

“This is one of the finest books on art, creativity, and the nature of God to date. It is no less than a manifesto: a call to co-create life at the grandest and most humble of scales. To make and remake the world with passionate and tangible love. Stunning, from start to finish.”

– Sally Morgenthaler, author or Worship Evangelism

“Troy Bronsink is deeply rooted in a seriousness about Gospel faith. He explores the recognition that faith cannot be held in the familiar categories of concept, proposition, rule or cliché, but is always moving toward new possibilities.”

– Walter Brueggemann, author of Prophetic Imagination

You can "look inside" it at Amazon, Paraclete Press, and soon it will be available on the redesign of my website.  Thanks everyone who helped bring this book to life!!!

looking "at" or looking "along?"

  We must, on pain of idiocy, deny from the very outset the idea that looking at is, by its own nature, intrinsically truer or better than looking along. One must look both along and at everything. —C.S.Lewis

I'm in my cousins' Eric and Katie Kuiper's house in Grand Rapids preparing to take a trip to the Toronto Film Festival. In a convo with Eric he mentioned a short article by C.S.Lewis entitled Meditation in a Tool Shed, in which Lewis contemplates a ray of light coming through the boards in an otherwise pitch-black shed. He  compares the modern objectivist's approach to seeing the dust particles in the beam from outside to the subjectivist's approach of walking into the beam and staring into it out the shed and seeing the leaves of trees and the distance sun.  A lot like the theological differnce between first order theology (I'm talking with and to God) and second order (I'm talking about God), Lewis points the the significance of both.

Getting drawn into beauty is underplayed by many with church experience, because they/we want to evaluate the experience, we want to compare it objectively.  It is difficult to everything from sermons to community-based-programs without going "objective" with out telling people what to see or do. But if we don't create experiences that offer opportunities to step into the sunbeam and "look along" we are reifying the tendency to gather only as a group who look "at" God or the goodnews of the reign of God.

I'm excited to take the weekend to see both through and at a number of great films.  What are you looking along today?





Block/Brueggemann on Like-mindedness

Neighborhoods, churches, business ventures need not be homogeneous groups of people—in fact, when they are they will necessarily be exclusive. They can also be places where gifts and calling are brought to bear.

Read More

Songs To Pray By CD Release show

Thanks to the 60+ folks who came out to the show at Kavarna on Friday night!  Mondo Davis opened up for us and was terrific.  We had fun reinterpreting songs from the album! Justin learned/adapted various lead guitar lines written by Dan Ra, Jack Jirack, David Drexler, Mike Sink and even some flute lines.  Larry sat in for Will on Drums (which also means that Derek on bass slid to fit Larry's interpretations). And then Stacey and Derek figured out how to sing BGVs written by Kerstin, Sasha, Annie, David, Eric and others.

The kickstarters have been sent their special downloads and the CDs were sorted and boxed by Marybeth Bellinger and Stephanie Shackelford, hitting mailboxes tomorrow!  So now we can begin unveiling Songs To Pray By for public consumption.  Anyone can stream or purchase the entire album at troybronsink.bandcamp.com or by clicking music in the above menu.

Keep posted because next month we'll roll out a new entire site www.troybronsink.com and facebook page that will include Church as Art, prayby, details on my upcoming book Drawn In, a place to see my art/curation portfolio, and a place for you to interact with all the work. Music, lyrics, song sheets, and books will be available on the site too.

Thank you everyone for your help on making Songs To Pray By possible!

Streaming music all memorial day weekend

So the entire list of tracks is streaming from now until monday night. 16 songs from the live show and rehearsal. We'd love your help on getting the set down to the best 10-11 songs for the debut LP. click on the "music" link above or, better yet, goto soundcloud and open an account and "heart" the songs you love the best. I'd love to hear what you think.