I’ve been thinking a lot about “creativity” lately. It’s in my blood. It’s who I am. I mean, I’m not way out there (I don’t think), but I do love new ideas, solving problems, dreaming of how things should and could be better.
The Church has a little bit of a sordid history with creativity. At some points in history, the Church has embraced creatives, artists, thinkers, and dreamers. At other times it has burned, tortured, hung, and crushed the same people.
Here’s what I think, for what it’s worth:
Creativity is what keeps a church moving forward. Without creativity, things are done the same way for years on end. Churches become museums and the only “art” on display tells stories of years-gone-by rather than dreams of the future. The world is constantly changing, cultures are changing, new problems arise, new paradigms are born and we need to have answers and solutions in real-time.
What kills creativity at churches?
- Fear of the unknown: Creative endeavors often have unknown outcomes. What will that song sound like? What will that art look like? There must be a great deal of trust built between the creative and the leader or leadership.
- Fear of failure: Will people like it? Will the artist pull it off? Will we offend people? Will it even work? But we’ve all heard the quote, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything new”.
- Fear of change: Ah yes, change. For most people in my demographic change is just how life is experienced. Things change all the time and change faster as time goes on. Just consider the last 100 years: cars, computers, phones, travel. Successful organizations have figured out how to embrace change and use it to their advantage. The church, well some do, some don’t. Those who don’t end up dying slow and painful deaths.
- Fear of emotion: This one’s tough. Men don’t cry. Passion is overused. Emotional decisions never last. It’s easy to stir people up. Blah, blah, blah. We are just as much emotional as we are physical as we are spiritual. Ignoring emotion, quenching passion will result in a culture that is heady, out of touch with reality, and unfeeling. Passion is what sells the dream.
I loved this quote from a comment on Vicky Beeching’s blog:
There was a time when the Church was known for artistic innovation. At a time when the music industry is imploding, a great opportunity exists for the Church to reclaim her historical place in supporting the arts…
Now for those who know me, I’m not lobbying for more drama’s on our church stages, or body painting during worship, or worship flags. That’s not the point. The point is, creativity is what solves problems in ways that move things forward. Creative thinking, dreaming, collaboration – these are like connectors between what is and what should and could be. And it’s not the Bible’s fault, or even the idea of the Church (the Gospel). The Gospel is transcendent, applicable to all cultures and all generations. But it’s our charge to live it out and present it in a powerful and convincing way to each generation, whether thru words, deeds, tweets, songs, art, etc.
I know, I’m not saying anything new. Or maybe I am. Either way, dream more…
(commenting doesn’t seem too popular anymore, but if you did comment, I’d love to hear how your church does or doesn’t embrace creative endeavors?)