Today’s post tells how Brent & Kristin Morris’s ministry, “set apart,” has developed since its conception. To read about what led them to start set apart, see Part 1 of their story.
Since starting set apart in 2010, Brent and Kristin have faced several daunting challenges in ministry, but perhaps one of the biggest has been articulating what the ministry is and what it does.
“It’s not an easy task to describe the ministry of set apart in just a couple of sentences,” Brent explained. “People readily understand the ministry of a homeless shelter, providing disaster relief, or caring for orphans. But understanding how art and creativity can be used as ministry is a foreign concept to many. They usually need context to understand it.”
The varying nature and scope of projects set apart has helped with also makes its work difficult to explain. Since its conception, the ministry has mainly helped people by providing creative strategy and services for other ministries such as The Gideons International, LifeTree Legacies, and the National Christian Foundation—Heartland.
“There’s no typical day in this ministry,” Kristin explained. “If people say, ‘What do you do?’ I say, ‘It depends on what you need for what God is calling you to do.’”
Because set apart has primarily been engaged in creative strategy and services since launching, many people have come to understand the ministry through that lens. But these services are only part of the vision for this ministry.
“Our ‘how’ is art and creativity, but our ‘why’ is discipleship. We want to help people go from mindset to movement – from not just believing they have been set apart by God to actually living like it.” Brent said.
After four years of ministry, Brent and Kristin are preparing to launch the discipleship aspect of their ministry, which is designed to assist people in defining and refining the call God has for their lives. Specifically, they are creating a process to help people understand the gifts they have been given and how to use them, through the telling of their own stories.
“By telling their own stories, people learn to hear the voice of God in their daily life and begin to understand how He set them apart,” Brent explained. “This is a very overwhelming subject for most, but storytelling keeps it personal and makes it doable. It helps people see the roadmap God has clearly defined for them.”
For Brent and Kristin, leading set apart has become a journey with its own personal stories. It requires day-by-day trust and faith, and it has also led to opportunities to see God’s redemptive work in their own family.
One of the first projects they worked on was building The Hope Memorial out of debris and wreckage for the people of Joplin, Missouri. (This was after the 2011 EF5 tornado destroyed 1/3 of the town, killing 161 people and injuring over 1,000.) As Brent stood in the 100+ degree heat, gathering debris in the midst of a ravaged Salvation Army thrift store, it struck him that his father had turned to The Salvation Army again and again for hope, help, and healing during his struggles with alcoholism.
“There I was, standing in the midst of a mess, called by God to build a visual message of redemption out of it. That’s what God did for my family—He redeemed our mess and turned it into something beautiful,” Brent said. “I know God used The Salvation Army to save my dad’s life, and the fact that we were working on this particular project together was amazing. Now, we were able to use our talents to share the same message.”
Brent and Kristin have also been able to see God work in the lives of their children. They joke about raising NPKs (Non-Profit Kids), but they have seen God use set apart to reach and teach their son and daughter.
For example, Brent once took a walk past “the red building” with his son, who was 5 at the time. The red building is an 1872 historic building just down the street from their house that Brent has dreamed of buying and using for set apart.
While passing the building that day, Brent was silently asking God for some encouragement in his call. Then his son spoke up. He said, “Dad, God made you an artist. You’re set apart.”
Stunned by this timely message, Brent turned to his son who was looking at the red building.
“Why do you call it the red building?” his son asked.
“Well, because it’s a building, and it’s red,” Brent answered matter-of-factly.
“I think it should have another name.”
“What do you think it should be called?”
“I think it should be called the ‘House of the Living Servant.’”
The name took Brent’s breath away. “Why do you think it should be called that?”
“Cuz people are going to be serving God in that building, Dad.”
That, in essence, is set apart’s mission – to help people learn how to serve God by finding their place and fulfilling their purpose in His story. Sometimes that process may be messy. But Brent and Kristin are ready for that.
“If God can redeem the mess of my family, He can redeem yours, too,” Brent said. “From an earthly perspective, it appeared that my family wouldn’t be able to overcome our circumstances. But it doesn’t matter what the world says. No one can change the Artist’s plan for your life.”
This is what Brent and Kristin seek to do through their ministry team – to show others how the broken parts of their past may in fact be powerfully and creatively used in a set apart future.