Wednesday, August 18, 2010

creativity in church part 2

If we land on the fact that creativity should be used in church, then I think it's important to decide what it's purpose should be. As I've visited modern churches, and been to dozens of services, the tendency is for creativity in church to be about creating a better experience. The creative ideas are channeled towards stage design, service programming, promo videos, etc.

Many times, churches that embrace creativity use it in all areas of the service except the message portion. The creative team meets and the services get a lot more edgy, but the messages generally stay the same. It’s like there’s a gap between what the speaker says and the rest of the service. There might be a cover song that kind of ties the whole thing together, but other than that, the speaker prepared, walked out, and spoke as if the creative team had never met.

This is because the creative process was geared towards creating a better experience. This is where the problem and debate arises.

Rather than creativity in church being funneled towards creating a better experience, it should be used to make a clearer presentation. Creativity should bring clarity to a message; not merely excitement to a service.

I think that churches focused on reaching the next generation desperately need to get this principle. Programming, videos, music, lighting, drama, and all of that are EXCELLENT! But the goal isn’t to create a more entertaining, “more bearable than your average traditional church” experience, the goal is to communicate a message. And our challenge is to use the gift of creativity that God has given us to further the ministry that God has entrusted us.

We need to be striving to use creativity to bring clarity. That is what Jesus did with the parables. He took a central idea he wanted to communicate about God, and creatively engaged his audience to bring clarity to His message. I’ll be sharing my thoughts/ramblings on the details of that in the next post.

Who are some communicators you’ve heard bring clarity through creativity?

5 comments:

  1. while I agree that creativity should not be used solely to create a better experience, I disagree with your premise that creative should be used to bring clarity. The parables are some of the most challenging words of Jesus to "figure out". They are not "clear". They are meant to be obscure, with multiple facets which make them much LESS clear than many other forms of communication that Jesus could have used. But that is also their beauty, because we're left to wrestle with the words, to challenge our stereotyped reading of these stories and to recognize that black and white clarity is not what Jesus was about.
    Human creativity is the gift of an enormously imaginative God...let's use those gifts to communicate HIM. Sometimes that means clarity and sometimes not.

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  2. I agree that the parables are often confusing, but Jesus didn't confuse people for confusion's sake. He wanted to stretch people's faith. Once a person wrestles with the teachings of Jesus, they are left with a clearer picture of what God (or the "kingdom of Heaven") is really like.

    Some things are simply to be left in the mystery of God. I'm not suggesting we get rid of that; I'm simply saying that we should strive to communicate through creativity. I personally (and maybe this is just a personal wiring) don't get much out of a message that isn't clear. I think in order to truly teach applicable messages, there has to be clarity. That is the challenge for communicators. It would be easy for Bible scholars to sit and talk about philosophical ideas about God and leave without any clarity at all, but communicators have the task of taking those ideas and communicating with clear application. We need to be leading people to live out the Bible in today's world. In my mind, that requires clarity.

    I'll continue processing through it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  3. in my experience the disconnect often comes between the pastor and the creative team because they pastor is either feeling threatened, or he has an incorrect understanding of creativity and artists in general.

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  4. Yes, I agree that the goal of communication is to be clear. But, I also think you can be clear without being particularly creative. A simple 3 point sermon can be dull and boring, or filled with insight. Videos, music, fancy illustrations, etc. don't necessarily make it more creative or more clear.
    I also agree with you that we need creativity in worship, but I don't necessarily link it to clarity.
    I think that creativity brings allusiveness, shrouding, somehow a blurring of the clarity which is good, because nothing about God is black and white...He is allusive, shrouded and mysterious!
    We are creative because we are formed and breathed-into by a supremely creative being, in whose image we are made. Sometimes our expression of this creativity brings clarity to our life of faith and sometimes it is simply the necessary, unclarified expression of living out that life.
    Thanks for the dialogue...it's good!

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  5. MG- thanks for the thoughts. Somebody needs to figure out how to link those two, and I think you're right, it's a matter of getting the speaker on board.

    Anonymous- I see what you're saying and agree. My thoughts are geared more towards churches with creative teams being more intentional about how they connect the message to the rest of the service. I wish more teams would set up the communicator and supplement the message. I talk more about a specific idea for that in the next post.

    I enjoy having to reconsider my arguments, so I appreciate your comments!

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