Why Creativity Matters in the Church

A lot of people are talking about creativity in church work right now, find and it’s raising some tensions in me (and maybe in you too?). We’ve been haggled on both ends of the creativity spectrum over the years. On the one hand we’ve bought into the rationale that says, “God hasn’t called you to be creative – He’s called you to be effective.” Therefore, copy & paste at will. And on the other hand we resonate with the thinking that says “All ministry is local.” Therefore, creative contextualization is the only way to impact a locality. It’s a tough balance to strike, really. And if you add the complexity that multi-site churches bring to the table, this can be a serious monkey on our backs as leaders.

To get some clarity on this issue for myself, I’ve spent some time wrestling with the purpose behind it all. Why be creative anyway? Why does “creativity” even matter in the church?

Zooming out a little, we can look at the big picture by seeing God’s own character and activity since the beginning of time. We call God our “Creator.” And the Bible says He created humans “in His image” (to be like Him in character – Genesis 1:26). So logically we can deduce that if we are not “creating” at some level, we are not in alignment with God’s basic design for our existence. You see this in the task God gave the first humans to assign names to all the animals. Yet He did not give them a list of names. They were to make them up! (Not sure I’d want that job). And while it’s true that on the 7th day God rested from His work, in a way He has never stopped creating since. In fact, even the universe is known to be in a continuous state of expansion. New things are being created every day.

How do we apply that to ministry?

Well, for starters, we can be sure that creativity is OK in the church. It is not a waste of time or money, and it is not simply a means to an end. It is a perfectly valid expression of our worship to God, and also an important reflection of our identity as image-bearers of the Creator.

Thankfully there’s also a practical reason for creativity, and here’s what I believe it is:

Creativity Creates Anticipation.

Especially when applied to something as repetitive as church services. Think about it, we do the same thing 52 times a year. Granted, Major League Baseball has us beat in the number of gatherings per year. But we’re not necessarily trying to compete on that point.

If you’re like me, you’re already asking the next question: Why does anticipation matter? And here’s where the lights come on for me. Anticipation matters because we are the delivery system for the most important message in the history of mankind, the Gospel. And if we bore people with the Gospel, we are guilty of the greatest crime humanity has ever experienced. Anticipation creates attention, and if there’s one thing God wants people paying attention to, it’s the Good News.

So…what are we going to do about it?

Share your thoughts, and stay tuned for the next in this series of posts on creativity.

4 thoughts on “Why Creativity Matters in the Church

  1. I like hearing the willingness to reexamine a rational. Could you share the reasoning behined buying into the idea that “God hasn’t called you to be creative – He’s called you to be effective.”? I personally buy into your explaination of why creativity does matter to the church and loved your theological and practical examples. I’d love to understand where you may have been coming from on the other side of the thinking.

  2. This is what gives every local church an edge. Sure there are mega-mega churches that arguably are speaking to an entire region, every local church has the advantage of being local. They have the opportunity to understand and contextualize the gospel. Even in a city, each community may be dealing with different issues.

    In that sense, creativity is a must.

  3. Nathan, I think the rationale for that viewpoint is that, if we think we have to be creative in everything we do, we end up wasting time and worrying too much about our own personal “coolness” rather than just getting stuff done. I think it’s a valid point, but taken to its extreme it leads to problems.

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