Culture Creators: An Interview with Nick Rynerson


One of my favorite ongoing blog series is LifeHackers' How I Work. Simple questions about how people in a variety of workplaces get stuff done. As I read more and more of these, I kept thinking about wondering about creative people I know and what their answers might be. That got me thinking. Why not host an interview series at my own blog with Christians who are working with excellence, who I admire, and who do creative stuff? I was concerned about getting enough people to host a meaningful series, but the yeses kept rolling in. So here we are.

Who is Nick Rynerson? Nick Rynerson is a marketing coordinator at Crossway and a staff writer for Christ and Pop Culture. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Jenna. In his spare time, Nick reads books, watches a lot of TV and movies, collects records, and frequents good coffee shops. He is also a contributor to Mockingbird and Gospel Centered Discipleship.


Mathew B. Sims: What kind of computer do you write on?

Nick Rynerson: I go back & forth between a MacBook Pro with two screens (work computer) and a MacBook Air (personal computer)

MBS: What’s your writing application of choice?

NR: Google Docs.

MBS: One word to describe your workspace?

NR: Office: Busy

Home: Cosy

MBS: What does the marketing coordinator at Crossway do?

NR: My responsibilities are primarily related to “online/digital” tasks at Crossway. It’s a mix of content heavy stuff (Thinking through digital content strategy, creating and sending newsletters, stuff with the blog, some social media, working with collegauges to develop marketing plans) and executing marketing plans analytics tracking, creating excerpts for new books, making sure the website has the content on it that we want, managing online advertising, and a bunch of other odds & ends. We’re a small marketing department so while everyone has their area there is a lot of overlap and collaboration.

MBS: What music do you listen to while working?

NR: All of it. Lately some albums that have gotten a lot of play are:

  • The War on Drugs - “Lost in the Dream”
  • Run the Jewels - “Run the Jewels 2”
  • Strugill SImpson - “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music”
  • Sly & the Family Stone - “There’s a Riot Goin On”
  • Kendrick Lamar - “good kid, m.A.A.D. city”
  • Hurray for the Riff Raff - “Small Town Heroes”
  • Parker Millsap - “Parker Millsap”

and as I’m writing this, I’m listening to a collection of New Orleans R&B from the 50’s,60’s, and 70’s. Great stuff.

MBS: What’s your best creativity hack?

NR: Pomodoro—I have an app that goes off every thirty minutes and reminds me to take a 3-5 minute break/get a drink of water or something. Keeps me focused (and hydrated). At home I just listen to vinyl records, which forces me to get up every 20 minutes or so to flip the record.

Also standing desks are literally a miracle.

MBS: What are you currently reading?

MBS: Would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?

NR: Introvert. But a chatty one.

MBS: What tools are invaluable for you?

NR: Google docs. A good pen (not a fancy one, just one that writes well). Post-It Notes.

MBS: What’s the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had?

NR: An Ethiopia Harrar in a v60 pour over at The Coffee Hound in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois (Sorry, Intelligentsia!)

MBS: What makes a good cultural creator in one sentence?

NR: I don’t know. Maybe we are all, by nature, good cultural creators—it seems like we were made to be—but social pressures, insecurities, biases, and institutions (i.e., sin and its effects) keep us from creating as we were made to. So maybe a good cultural creator is someone who can figure out how to create something (at least personally) meaningful whilst navigating the constraints that come with the human condition. I know you said “one sentence”, but I couldn’t do that––sorry.

MBS: What’s your favorite album of 2014?

NR: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music by Sturgill Simpson

MBS: What’s your favorite movie of 2014?

NR: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson needs to win all the awards for that film.

MBS: Early worm or night owl?

NR: Night owl by nature, early bird by necessity.

MBS: How does enjoying good culture help us grow as people?

NR: It helps us understand ourselves, others, our world, and God. Culture and art communicates things that are otherwise ineffable—invisible things.

MBS: What popular cultural argument makes you cringe?

NR: The genetic fallacy: “It isn’t biblical/created by Christians therefore it can’t be good/helpful/beneficial.” It implies something profoundly untrue and unbiblical about people and culture: that only Christians are capable of creating beautiful, true, and meaningful things. One of my main hopes for my writing is that Christians experiences glimpses of God’s character and the gospel story in culture that they might otherwise see as “secular.”