Creative Spotlight: Christian and Amber Balderas
Christian and Amber are the Worship Pastors at Life Church in Wesley Chapel, Florida. After graduating Hillsong College, they dove straight into ministry, investing their time in talent in the local church. Today they join us at Creative Collected to share about being young leaders and maintaining their Creative identity.
What did the role of Worship Pastor look like when you first came on staff and what about the role has changed?
When we first came on, the role was very much a “creative guru” role where the worship pastor was over EVERYTHING. It wasn’t just worship. We had so many services, and campuses in different languages but we were focused on the lead campus. It was broad [over every aspect of worship and creative] for the lead service and now it’s focusing on worship for all services and campuses. The Senior Pastor, Ed, asked us to bring the culture of the Hillsong and pretty much shift the entire worship experience. It was a lot of pressure, we were asked to change the worship culture and hoped the rest of the church would catch on.
At 20 and 23 years old we were given an assignment that was much bigger than us. Our leadership trusted us so much and and it became a partnership. Pastor Ed made decisions based on the culture shift and we were able to figure out how to move forward together - how to transition a church of 27 years and change the momentum. It was a hard thing.
Now the role isn’t focused on one service, we are able to champion every service at church. Now we can “stay in our lane” we are not the end-all-be-all for stage design or production or anything of that nature. We can release others and focus on what we have been assigned to do.
How have you maintained your creativity while honoring the vision of your Senior Pastor?
Christian: For me, songwriting has taken on a role here that it never took on in college. I could never get traction, but aligning myself under the vision of [Life Church], where I knew God planted me, allowed the creativity of my songwriting to flourish. God put me here for a specific purpose. So when I aligned myself with the vision we were able to give voice to our congregation. It started with 5 songs, giving it our best shot. Now its 10+ songs actively happening throughout church. It’s incredible to see God be faithful to something mundane - cause songwriting is laborious, but that’s where God works.
Amber: So many people think when you submit to leadership that you have to give up your creativity, but it’s the opposite. My creativity serves other people now. Not that I wouldn’t be creative outside the church, but I recognize other people’s experience depends on how well I work at my craft. It’s freedom in restriction. We are facilitators for something bigger than ourselves and it’s helped me become a better Creative.
You have a baby girl, Finnley, and a lot has changed for your little family. How has entering parenthood affected you as Creatives?
Amber: We are feelers but we love so much more with her. I thought I was deep, but it’s more now. She brings more creativity. She’s been a huge inspiration - new revelation of the Father’s heart for us and songs have come from that. Understanding our love for her has helped us understand the love of the Father.
She’s so in love with music. We’ve prayed she would be in love with the presence of God. She falls asleep to the same worship song every night. It’s inspiring - the wonder in her eyes when she’s experiencing things for the first time. We start to see things from her perspective, everything is captivating. When did we become so numb to creation and see it as mundane?
Christian: I’ve had to get creative with how I express creativity - for example, it’s 12:30am and I’m holding her but a song idea comes. I’m trying to figure out how to balance that. Being totally responsible for this life is incredible, but it poses new opportunities for increased creativity within my schedule. It’s hard to adapt to. It’s a game changer.
What areas of your lives are challenging you the most creatively? From those challenges, what are you learning that could encourage others?
Amber: Still making my passion a priority would be my biggest challenge. I can’t settle and say I’m good enough. I want to show Finnley that I’m always learning. I’m learning God’s a God of order, and when I focus on serving him everything falls into place. It’s not about church or my husband or daughter, if I serve Him I ultimately am serving them too.
Christain: Schedule - the season we are in is hectic. It’s forced me to look for God where I haven’t looked for Him before. [Finnley’s] at this stage where she pushes through teeth, she never sleeps. The schedule is thrown off. So where is God in my frustration? The encouraging thing is He always tells me. The other night I was holding her, she’s screaming - Lord where are you? So I stared at her and felt an immense amount of love. You’re driving me crazy, but I love you so much. Then God whispers, “That’s where I am.”
The other thing, fearing God has been challenging within my writing. Am I, as an author, creating things that truly fear the Lord, capturing his reverence? I remember the scripture, “when you seek me you will find me.” When I seek Him within things I don’t understand, I know He will be faithful to show me because He won’t withhold that from me.
You can listen and purchase Life Church’s EP “Come As You Are” here.