When you read the word creativity, what comes to mind? If I put it in context and said to you, ‘John’s very creative’ what would you think? Would you think John was an artist, maybe a musician? What if I added the fact that John was a Pastor? Would that change how what you thought about John? If I said, ‘Pastor John is very creative’ what would you think? How would you envision Pastor John? Chances are you would think that Pastor John was the Worship Pastor, after all, the Worship Pastor is the most creative people in the church, or should be, right? What if I told you that Pastor John was the Senior Pastor?
In most churches, the idea is that the Worship Pastor should be creative, but the idea that the Senior Pastor would be creative is foreign. You see, when we think of creativity, we always connect it to the arts, and not to church management. But what if, just what if, we started to use creativity in all areas of the church?
In my new book, The Church Creative: how to be a creative gathering in the 21st century, I explore the idea of taking the adjective Creative and turning it into the noun Creatives. I explore the power, energy and direction of working with the Divine explosion of Creation and bringing that force into the life and direction of the church.
“Creativity isn’t simply a spark that will ignite a fire, creativity is the smashing together of two atoms with such force, it will cause an atomic explosion that can change your world. Creativity was the force that brought Western Europe out of the Dark Ages, it was the force that sparked the great inventions of our time and it can bring your gathering out of the dark ages of lethargy.” (page 45)
In The Church Creative I address the question, “How.” How do we become more creative? How do we invite Creativity into our gathering? How do we re-imagine church? How do I bring ideas of change to people who fear change? How do you develop a culture of creativity?
In the How, I would like to share with you six things I believe will help you address those questions (keep in mind, the book The Church Creative address more than these six)
The first thing we need to address is Place. Place is important because it is where creativity is nurtured and fed. Place becomes the incubator for creative thought where Creatives can express ideas and develop new ways of addressing old problems. We have to keep in mind, it is impossible to solve an issue if we are using the same thinking that got us to the problem. By embracing a creative Place, we embrace creativity. Keep in mind that this Place must be Fun.
This brings me to the second thing that is needed, Fun. Wherever this place is, or what it looks like, it must be a place where people can have fun. Let’s be honest with each other, there is not much fun happening in most Boardrooms.
The third thing we need to remember is that to create Creatives need Things. Yea, you are going to need stuff (for a lack of a better word), and it could be a lot of stuff. Creatives need stuff to bring creativity to life.
Along with Things, the forth thing Creatives need is a place to Show. If they paint, they need a place to display their paintings; if you write, the need a place where they can share those writings with others. It is important that people are able to show what they create. This gives them the ability to get feedback and grow as an artist.
The fifth thing Creatives need is healthy, constructive Feedback. Healthy, constructive feedback does some amazing things, one of the first things it does is it helps Creatives define and clarify their vision. When Creatives are given constructive feedback (not criticism) their skills and are able to develop the language they need to express their creative side.
The sixth thing we need to develop to invite creativity, the ability to avoid stereotypes. For many, this is one of the hardest things to develop. This is going to require that you think of yourself differently, and see others as God created them and not how you or culture defines them.
The idea of creativity does not have to be daunting. Creativity will bring a new life to your gathering, and help you move past stagnation and decline. Keep in mind one very important fact, creativity is not a program; it is a way of life, a way of thinking, which will help you re-imagine so many things that are causing the church to faultier.
John C O’Keefe is a pastor, speaker, thinker, rebel, wonder and the author of The Church Creative: how to be a creative gathering in the 21st century. He holds a Doctorate in Leadership in the Emerging Culture, Future Studies from George Fox University.