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Church Can Stink for Creative People

I’m not sure exactly how I came across Jon Reid’s blog, and I find his statements sometimes challenging, repulsive and crude, or sometimes even both at the same time. He seems to be a muckraker of sorts in the matter of Christianity, and I think every generation needs one or two. It helps us to see where we are and challenges our thinking so that we can further solidify our stance. Those who fear such things (setting aside new converts to Christianity) likely prefer to be blind, segregated, and likely unwilling to consider change for the good anyway.

Leaving that topic, I saw the video on his page that really spoke to me, cuz I’m a creative. I like to do things off the cuff. I like freedom to dream and to make dreams happen – to experiment with just about anything that you put in front of me. I don’t like numbers unless they are calculations for the use of keyframes in Adobe After Effects. And while I enjoy order, I like to bend it a bit. Yeah, I am the right-brained guy who comes up with the occasional off-the-wall statement in a staff meeting when discussion gets too dry (ho-hum), but I can also turn a basic concept or spark of thought into something that people will talk about for a long time after.

Here’s where I think that Jon is on the money: we tend to limit God to a specific program that is performed every week in church life. There’s a couple songs, then a prayer, then time for an offering, another song, a sermon, possible invitation, etc — that’s life every Sunday for Western church-goers. This speaks of boredom to me. It also says that we often plan God out of church. People show up expecting a program, rather than people showing up expecting to see God. Where’s the creativity in that? Yes, the musicians and orators may do well, but what about everyone else in the room? The video cameras in the room capture a group of glassy-eyed spectators attending out of duty. They sing their songs, give their tithes and offerings, then set in their pews with blank stares until they are dismissed. Duty and guilt-ridden attendance are failures with awful consequences in a post-modern age when there is so much potential in celebrating the true life that is instilled in believers when they are given the freedom to celebrate their relationship with God together. (Yow! That’s a loaded statement!)

If it were up to me, I’d be encouraging people to interact in the service.

  • Oh, so-and-so has a need we should address as a church body? let’s gather together in prayer for her, over the Southernly polite, Bless your heart. We’ll be in prayer for you.
  • Hey, take out that blank sheet of paper we provided in your bulletin and jot down a few notes this morning (for the left-brained), or draw a picture expressing your thoughts on the concept we’re discussing, snap a picture on your phone, and post it on our web page.
  • Some of our youth were working on a song that speaks specifically to the sermon this morning; let them share it with you.
Essentially, order and a plan is great, but be willing to make a way for interruptions (and I’m not talking about the planned “interruptions” that can happen on televangelist shows, either); the priority shouldn’t be getting everyone out in time to Sunday lunch. Didn’t King David say that he valued God’s Word more than his necessary food? Also, if Christians actually attended and were confronted with involvement, interaction, and personalization of worship, they would probably forget about watching the clock and would further connect with God.
Personally, I think that the church has compartmentalized creatives. They are often kept at arm’s length, not accepted, or held at bay because they see things differently; that’s not good when organized religion has been following the same traditions for “hundreds of years.” Yeah, creatives tend to want to smooth out the corners and to push into different arenas. Now, we’ll put creatives in as advertising guys or into back closets where they can create neat drawings and concepts to support a building project, but really, where’s the creativity in that? God is creative, and as God’s creation in His image we are ALL creative! We just don’t want to stretch ourselves into uncomfortable territory. The unknown can be spooky at times, but taking a risk and opening up to letting the Creator move from the inside out – that is majestic!
To all those creatives out there who think religion is boring or outdated, I agree. Going to church and living out a set of life standards is a waste of time unless there’s really something to it – and there is! It’s all a matter of a relationship. The created (us) can have communion with the Creator (God), and as this happens there is an outpouring of, well, you guessed it, even more creativity within the bounds that God has established. We just need to convince many in our Western, left-brained culture that they need to loosen up a bit and embrace freedom in flexibility and spontaneity.
  1. February 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Don,
    I must have missed this when you wrote it. (I was fresh back to blogging after a year of near-silence.) Thanks for taking my post and running with it!

    (By the way, if I seem repulsive or crude, know that it’s never my intent. Please write that off as cultural mismatch. But “challenging”… that one’s intentional.)
    – Jon

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