This coming weekend I’ll be starting something new. I’m taking a leap of faith and leading two small groups for about 12 weeks straight.
Creative Minds: Saturday nights, from 8pm to 10pm, at Downtown Jeaux. This small group will be for anyone that enjoys creating things. Just a group of people, hanging out, discussing the process, and brainstorming on what to create next.
BBQ and Basketball: Sunday afternoons, at 5:30pm, at Gray Park or Houma Christian gym. This small group will be for anyone who enjoys food, pickup games, and hanging out with other like-minded people.
Here’s a pro-tip: if there’s something that you wish existed in the world, just create it. That’s how these small groups came to be. If someone else would’ve come up with these ideas for groups, I’d be the first one to sign up.
It’s similar to reverse engineering: how would my favorite artist make this song, or how would my favorite basketball player get past his defender, or how would my favorite writer talk about this topic for a story—and for a second, I’ll pretend like I’m them, imagining their process of creating this thing I want to exist—and before I realize it, it’s becoming a reality, but now I’m the one building it.
That’s an example of what will be discussed at the Creative Minds Small Group, and that’s why I made these groups, because I want them to exist in the world. I hope to see you there.
There’s a story I want to tell you. It’s actually a few stories. This blog post is important to me because it’s about other people. It’s about underdogs. These people have been overlooked for most of their life. But tonight, that all changed.
I was the first person there:
Just sat down at Downtown Jeaux. Jazz is playing in the background. Antonino is the DJ, scone baker and order taker. See y’all soon.
That simple message alone was good, but that was before experiencing the rest of the night. This is what happens when you put a dozen creative people together in one room.
Before everyone showed up, we put three tables together and planned for about 10 people, but once everyone arrived, we had to add another table to it, and a few people even sat in a booth next to us. The number of people that gave my group a chance is incredibly humbling. I was nervous about the outcome before it started, but I left there knowing that something big just happened.
Once everyone walked in—they were all right on time, some even early, all eager to get started—they ordered their coffee and scones, filled up the chairs, and we took turns introducing ourselves and how we were creative.
The coolest story from tonight is that my friend, Devin Wright, when it was his turn to introduce himself, said, “I’m not creative, I’m just here.” Well, before the night was over, he handed me his small notebook, and asked me to read what he wrote. The same guy that said he wasn’t creative wound up writing a short story, and he’ll be my next Guest Post on this site. That’s incredible. That’s a success story like no other: someone that walked into a room full of creators, shy and feeling like he didn’t belong there, ended up being the only one that left with a finished product.
After introducing ourselves, we decided to leave for 30 minutes and watch JP perform. He was only a few streets over. He knew the small group was coming watch him, but he thought the small group only consisted of a few guys. We walked in with a dozen people (about half as many as they already had in there), increasing the audience and giving JP the support he deserves. My Creative Minds Small Group, after learning each other’s names, went on a field trip to watch a fellow member perform spoken word. You would think this was planned. You couldn’t have scripted a better introduction if you tried.
When it was over, we all went back to Downtown Jeaux and stayed there until 11pm, two hours later than their usual closing time. The owner gave us permission to stay there as long as we needed, and that thought alone blows my mind. See, this small group was originally planned for Books-A-Million. It was the only place I could think of for a handful of people to talk about creating. It was also the only place I could think of that stayed open until 10pm. But a few days before starting my small group, I found Downtown Jeaux, told the owner about my idea, and this is the results. As you can see—between this and an art performance going on a few blocks over—things effortlessly fell into place.
When we settled back in at Downtown Jeaux, one guy performed a song: he went grab his bluetooth speaker, grabbed a handful of loose-leaf papers, turned on the music and words just started flowing. Behind me was someone crocheting. In front of me, there were three acoustic guitars, people singing, another guy rapping over the guitars, there were writers writing. On the right side of me, coffee was brewing. You can hear people laughing and just having a great night. This paragraph is what I had in mind for a small group: no structure, no rules, just let creativity happen—but even the thought of all of these things happening doesn’t compare to what actually went down. Inspiration was everywhere.
I made this small group on Saturdays at 8pm for a reason. That’s usually the time people are getting ready to go out and drink. I wanted somewhere’s healthy for me to be, without the alcohol, without the negativity. I wanted my Saturday nights to be booked up with people that inspire me. I didn’t want my Saturday nights to be a blur anymore. I made that decision when the location was still going to be Books-A-Million. God had other plans. My small group is now hosted at a coffee shop that’s right behind two popular bars. The people that are walking in those bars and won’t remember their night, are first passing by us and looking through the window, at a dozen people who are experiencing a night they’ll never forget.
Week 2 was a success. Ms. Denise read a poem, Stu read a poem with Leonce playing the guitar, Devin read something he had just wrote a few minutes prior, Antonio, our barista, read a poem he was working on while serving us coffee, all while Mr. Dwayne was drawing a portrait of our pastors. The atmosphere was definitely alive.
Another successful week for Creative Minds: lots of coffee, conversations, game-planning, and relationship building.
Group picture with Padraig Whetsell (guy in white shirt). He’s the artist that painted all of this.
My art is complete when I’m too nervous to continue.
Robin Williams, the genius.
This is the painting Padraig was working on when we walked in. My mind was blown.
A BMW bike that Padraig is selling. I’ve been eying it for the past month.
Art After Dark.
Downtown Jeaux, Tommy and Lori were cooking sliders outside.
Even though I couldn’t make it Saturday night, Creative Minds was still a success. It’s a good feeling to know that if you build something, and if you give it a strong enough foundation, and even if you’re not there for the night, nothing changes. The momentum didn’t drop at all. I’m so proud of these guys.
Five weeks in and I’m still stunned by the amount of energy I’m getting from this group. I thought it would’ve died down by now, but instead, it continues to increase. There was also a festival tonight, which helped. There was also another field trip: we walked a few blocks to watch JP perform again (the video of this is at the bottom).
I went into week 6 knowing that I wanted a nicely edited video to show off my small group. Three iPhones and an iPad created this video: one iPhone 6s recorded the audio from the guitars, my iPhone 7 recorded most of the video footage, my friend’s iPhone 6s recorded a few extra scenes from outside of the building, and my iPad Pro did all of the editing. My point is, you don’t need a fancy camera and expensive setup to create. Use whatever tools you have at your disposal. Have fun. This is Creative Minds.
This is Week 7 of Creative Minds. A two hour small group. The first hour is hanging out, and the second hour is sharing something creative that you worked on. This week, Denise shared a poem, Chrissy sang a song, Devin read a story, so did Fred and Toni. And after everyone else, I read a spoken word.
Last night was amazing! Monday night, at The Writious Ones small group, we talked about a Group Fusion for Saturday night with Creative Minds. It was great music and good fellowship! After Creative Minds, we took the Fusion to Voice of the Wetlands. It was two small groups in one night. Lots of fun!
My Spoken Word:
This is an open letter to my small group: channeling Boy Once Blind, with no music, just making words rhyme. Two months ago, I never would’ve thought we’d be here. Now look at me, a leader. New friends, new family, new people that love me, and don’t judge me, and trust me, and give me confidence to keep rising above what was once steep. Flights of stares, and nights with nightmares, and moments of loneliness when no one else was there. Above all, I’m just excited that you care.
Lens flares and scene changes, and life changes in the context of small groups. It’s amazing, where a higher power came in, and brought people into my life that would’ve otherwise never been there. I went from isolated to populated, I went from selfish to selfless, I went from heart burning and melting to helping the helpless. My entire life did a 180 when I created Creative Minds. It opened my eyes and made me realize that I am enough.
All that self-doubt and insecurities that surrounded me, vanished. See, I was an introvert, or so I thought, but God had other plans for me. Now, I’m outspoken, thought-provoked, still broken, but that brokenness gives me character. You see, that brokenness is a conversation piece for your accountability partners to carry you. There’s challenges ahead, that’ll continue to make me strong, but the best part about it: I’m no longer doing it alone.
After Party: Voice of the Wetlands
This weekend flew by for me, but not without leaving me with many great memories: I performed a song, listened to a spoken word artist that tours for a living, had another fun day at the park, and each one of these memories were surrounded with some of my favorite people. Thanks to those who keep attending the small groups.
These two small groups have changed my life. I’ll write more about why when the semester is over (about 4-5 more weeks), but for now, I just want to thank everyone who came out this weekend. Each one of you are incredible, and every personality is a blast to hang out with.
Before ranting about Creative Minds, the main thing you need to know is December 10th. Mark your calendar. It’s the big day to celebrate everything I’m about to discuss.
Table of Contents
I just went through 12 weeks of leading a small group at Cross Church. That might not sound like much to you, but it meant everything to me. For a church to believe in me enough to lead a group of people on a weekly basis, that’s not something I take for granted.
I can remember many months ago, when my friend, Chad, the person in charge of small groups at Cross Church, suggested that I lead a group. I brushed the idea off, knowing that I’m not a leader. Besides, I’m too shy, and too scared to do something that ambitious. A week went by, and I agreed under one condition: someone co-lead with me. But as the semester approached, I gained enough confidence to not need that co-leader, and I wound up leading two small groups instead of just one: “Creative Minds” and “BBQ and Basketball”. I can never thank Cross Church enough for showing me how possible it is to be a leader.
The coolest part about leading these two groups was how many people showed up every week. Each Saturday night (or Sunday afternoon), over twenty people would stop by: to sing, play instruments, draw, cook food, play basketball, and so much more. I was in awe as I’d look around. I might create a lot, but I don’t take many chances. I rather be strategic. I took a chance on leading though, and my life will never be the same because of it. People believed in me enough to show up consistently every week. It blew my mind. And now, these relationships and these moments, every single one of them, will be something I remember for the rest of my life.
December 10th (not this Saturday, but next), we’ll have one last Creative Minds to celebrate the life-changes that happened in those 12 weeks. As much as it’s about me, it’s even more about the people that opened up their hearts during this semester. I’ve gotten to know some amazing friends because of these groups. We lean on each other now, and we’ve all grown so much. These groups weren’t just about creating and basketball, that was just the excuse that brought us together.
If you came to any of these events, or if you’ve considered coming to one of these events—or, if you simply just know one of us in the group, and you’ve seen our growth over these last few months—we’d love it if you’d join us. It’s nothing formal, just a bunch of friends hanging out, playing guitars, and drinking coffee: celebrating Creative Minds.
Every month is a blank canvas