An interview with Chad Haliburton

Posted on January 29, 2009



I have enjoyed getting to know Chad Halliburton for a couple of years now. He is the Celebration Arts Pastor at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, CA.

Chad has a genuine heart and a creative spirit. I have really enjoyed collaborating with him on several occasions. He’s got a lot of wisdom…


It started with theatre in high school.  I have always loved acting.  The medium of live theatre is a passion of mine.  I love the immediate nature of it and the unique relationship and energy created with the audience and actors.  Through college and on into my time at Rockharbor, I realized that as much as I love theatre in particular, I just love the process and power of storytelling….through paintings, videos, film, dance…whatever it might be.

What inspires you? 
Theatre, music, children’s literature, people that are passionate at what they do…regardless of what it is. (well, almost regardless…)

Describe your ‘creative process’. 
Depends on what it’s for.  Example…if it’s here at Rockharbor, I start with the felt need or reason for doing it and work backwards.  If we are doing Christmas and the felt need we identify is “hope”….then that’s the starting point.  From there we “blue sky” (awesome Disney term) it and think of all the different ways we could tell a story of hope that is relevant for a Christmas service.  Everything and every medium is on the table.  When we come up with an idea that seems to separate itself (this could take a number of days or meetings), I’ll sit with it for quite some time.  This is where I really take the time to let something “marinate”.  I listen to music and picture the whole thing happening – over and over.  During this time it begins to change and take shape.  Another important step for me is bouncing it off people I trust as it evolves.  There is a “testing” that happens for me as I explain it to others.  When I’m done talking about it, I usually either like it better or worse than when I started.  Funny, but almost always true.

What is a common mistake you notice during the create process.
Probably not bouncing it off of enough different kinds of people.  I tend to like to share in the initial stages with people that are going to like it because it makes me feel good and causes less work.  But, the reality is that the effectiveness of the message we are trying to send through art has to spread over many different filters of human beings…not just the ones who think like me and like what I like.

How do you think your art form has evolved during this generation? 
If we’re talking about art and the church, I think that “excellence” is becoming more and more a part of the conversation.

Not just portraying the message of Christ, but doing it well.  I really believe that we can actually get in the way of the very message we are trying to send by doing it at such a low standard that all the receiver is thinking about is how poorly the message is being sent!  Now, there is a slippery slope here to be careful of, because we don’t ever want church or church things to be a show, but we have definitely taken some ground here as a church and many places are finding that balance…

What’s the next season of creating look like for you?  
I’m actually in the process of trying to figure that out.  There is a big conversation going on right now within the Church as a whole involving “missional” vs. “attractional”.  To dumb it down, attractional churches say “come to our place and hear about Jesus, get involved etc…”  The missional direction would say “let’s go out and be the message of Jesus to people wherever they are…right where they are”.  Again, this is REALLY dumbing it down and there is so much more to this.  That said, I am a believer that a church can and should do both.  So I’m currently trying to figure out how art and artists play a part in the missional aspect of church.  How do we use this common language of art to reach people outside of the church walls right where they are.  How do we enter into
relationship as with artists outside of church walls etc…..
Big conversation.  Makes my brain hurt.

Any other comments you’d like to share?
Just that Tony is awesome.  That’s pretty much it.

You can check out Rock Harbor at

Posted in: Creative Leaders