I am a creative.
That statement may have just conjured up a few ideas in your head; like a dude with a strange fashion sense, or weird haircut, or an annoyingly philosophical approach to seemingly insignificant things. But, these couldn’t be further from the truth. I am possibly the most plainly-dressed, average-haired, unphilosophical guy you will ever meet. But I am still a creative. Very few things give me as much joy as writing music about my savior or making something from the overflow of my walk with God. But this article is not about me—it’s about how we the church handle creativity.
I am fortunate that my creative experience in the church has been abundantly positive. I was blessed to have grown up in a supportive, loving community that really stimulated my passions and encouraged me to steward and stretch them further than I imagined possible. Unfortunately, I have come to learn that my experience was the exception rather than the norm. We do a good job of suppressing creativity that we don’t understand in the name of tradition (obviously not you! I’m speaking in general terms).
If you want proof of this, look at a video of your average Adventist church from 20 years ago and compare the stage design, presentation style, or song service with that of the average church today. Now think about how much each of those creative mediums has grown in the secular world during that time. It becomes abundantly clear that we are creating little. I am not saying that the church should follow the world. It is simply a comparison of natural creative development within and outside of the church.
NEXT STEPS: Young Adult Ministry Training
Interestingly, the Adventist church seems to be at a crossroads. With an aging population and ongoing discussion over how young people can be reached with the Gospel, the church has an opportunity to once again stimulate creativity amongst themselves. Particularly amongst young people. And yes, I said, “once again.”
The Adventist church saw heaps of growth in its first few decades. Obviously, there are several contributing factors to that success, but there is one idea that I would like you to think about. When Adventists went to a new town, they would usually set up a big tent (weird!). Then they would advertise their seminars about topics like prophecy and Biblical truth. This was a new, innovative, and creative way to share the Gospel of Jesus; but it was something that no-one else was doing. The result was that the Adventists were able to reach a niche of people that other churches weren’t able to reach simply because of the model they were using. Their message was the convicting force but the model got people in the ‘door.’
I am far from convinced that traditional evangelistic seminars are the only way to do evangelism. What I am convinced of is that for as long as traditional evangelism it is the primary style of evangelism that we pour our resources into, the church will only become better and better at reaching a specific group of people in our community. We must be more committed to creativity than to tradition when presenting the Gospel. We must be more committed to our mission than our model. Jesus was. He had to abolish the old laws of God’s chosen people and establish a new covenant of faith with all humanity achieve the same intended purpose. The Jews had fallen out of love with God and fallen in love with their way of doing faith. Have we made the same mistake?
Now, more than ever is the time for God’s people to rise up and create. That is the only way to share the life-changing message of Jesus with a world that is becoming more and more disinterested in what we have to say. Whether it is a new way to show or share Jesus, or an improvement on another idea, we must use our brains to do what they were made to do—create! One of Adam’s first jobs was to create a name for each animal God brought before him. Creativity is who we are. We have been created to create, so let’s do it.