Something got my wheels turning. I am placed in a strange juxtaposition of two different cultures. The culture I serve, my home congregation is a beautiful and wonderful place; a place I so enjoy serving, but I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface of how to be creative. We’re making excellent strides there and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
On the other hand, the online world of church creatives that I daily take part in is a place of bold innovation, extreme creativity, and fresh thinking that, at times, might even be offensive to some within my congregation.
I try to live in the space between with discernment, challenging our home community to be more creative when I see the opporunity and knowing when to say “that’s too much for us right now” when I feel pushed to be more creative from the larger creative community of church leaders.
I wonder if we get too caught up in it sometimes. Let me set up the scenario:
You are working with a small team of musicians who are growing very successfully in their musical abilities. However, they’re not scouring the web and searching for content to help them become more and more creative. You, on the other hand, are constantly looking for new ideas, and you feel like you need to keep pushing the creative envelope and challenging your musicians, artists, and church leaders.
So, instead of hearing a piano player, who’s never learned to play by chord, play her first ever song with only a chord chart and get through it fairly successfully you say, “Nope, you’re not a creative enough piano player to fit into my team. We only take people who can create from chord sheets, not people who are bound to the written page. Sorry, we can’t use you” before she even starts.
How much does this sort of thinking apply to the broad spectrum of your entire congregation?
- Sorry, all of your designs look like something from [insert other church name here] – we need you to come up with something innovative and new
- Sorry, Vacation Bible School planning team, you’re not writing your own curriculum and music or using live musicians, we need something specifically tailored just to our congregation
- Insert whatever other creative ministry situation you can think of here
Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m finding myself thinking the above thoughts far too often. ”Man, I really wish we had a creative designer. Man, why can’t the people involved in the local theatre community use their skills in the church. Man, why can’t we have a puppet ministry or a more exciting children’s ministry.”
Then I think, “Wait. I’ve never encouraged or set out to train and equip any of these people!” My disappointment in anyone’s “lack” of creativity has diminished any ability to help them get rid of that “lack!”
I wholeheartedly agree that the church needs to be more creative collectively and lead culture the way it used to. However, instead of discounting someone just because they “only use clipart” or “only play written-out music” can we commit to helping move them from clip-art to creative design and from classical musical training to creative musical creation?
I’m afraid that sometimes the more we push people to be more creative, the more frustrated they might become. Gentle equipping and encouragement over the long haul is going to be what it truly takes to create a creative culture.
What do you think?
Unedited Photo from Ty Carlson