How to Have a Courageously Creative Church: A Recap Post from ENGAGE Conference 2020

Jenny Randle bubbles over with passion as she encourages us to see the power of creativity in our ministry. She implores us to realize that creativity is necessary and that we have to be intentional about keeping it alive, to fight for it, so we can dream big, lead courageously, and encourage those around us. Sharing from her experience in the entertainment, publishing, and marketing industries, she pours out her heart for empowering the church to fight for creativity in sharing the Gospel. Jenny’s message weaves prayer with practical tips and exercises to help us bring creativity into the mix of ministry as we know it.

Jenny shares a very sobering statistic from an Adobe Global Creativity Study, “75% of people feel they aren’t living up to their creative potential.”  With that statistic in mind, Jenny poses that, “Imagination and creativity decrease with age and it’s impacting the local church.” She invites us to assess our own imagination and challenges us to answer if we are as creative now as we were when we were children.

It reminds me of how we are bid to come to Jesus as children- innocent and full of wonder. Is He also bidding us to come to work and our role as ministry leaders as children who are full of wonder? 

As I listened to Jenny, it led me to contemplate my own experience with creativity. As a writer, speaker and coach, there is a process I use. I initiate my time of creating by intentionally connecting to that part inside of me that is connected to the creator of all things. I align myself with a place inside me that is bigger than me. It is not something that exists because I exist – I exist because it existed first. It is exhilarating to tap into the artist of all creation, the designer of the beauty that surrounds me and to humbly ask to be used as a vessel. Creativity, my new thoughts and explorations and observations, the conclusions I draw are not from something in my “self”- they come from my spirit – something borrowed from God.

It is not uncommon for me to look back at something I have read or said and be amazed. I don’t remember the words tumbling out of me in that order, and when I read it back to myself, it is like I was preaching to myself in a way that I needed to hear. It is exciting to be a part of this process, and I remind myself often that whatever creativity that is evoked from this work, is not mine to possess, it is merely mine to share, and that is an honor indeed.

Jenny defines creativity as “The act of making stuff.” 

We make stuff all the time. We write sermons, create graphics, compose social media posts, develop curriculum and design systems of operational flow. As funny as it may sound, I feel at my most creative when I am creating organizational structure, designing how things work together in ministry to fulfill the mission we are striving towards. 

So, how do we regain the creativity needed to produce original and creative answers and solutions? Jenny uses examples from her book, “Courageous Creative” which includes 31 creative challenges along with practical tips to help us bring imagination and wonder into the work we have been called to.

During this session you’ll learn how to Retrain, Maintain, and Sustain creativity at your church.

Retrain 

Tip #1 : Creativity is a gift from God that we get to use to communicate the gospel. 

    1.  Healthy creativity is an act of worship that brings Christ glory. 

    2.  Stress and time kill creativity.  

    3.  Become self-aware through prayer; pray together. 

As leaders, we need to intentionally create the necessary culture for creativity. We need to allow ourselves and others the time and space required for original thinking and worshipful connection to God through prayer. In a TED talk by Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, he shares the importance of having space in your deadlines. His study found that the most original ideas came from people who started a project and then seemingly procrastinated until the last minute to complete it. But the perceived procrastination wasn’t really them avoiding the work. In that time, they were able to ruminate on new thoughts, concepts and ideas that served to produce innovative and original solutions. Tight deadlines do not serve us well when we are striving for creative solutions in our ministries.

Maintain 

Tip #2: Repurpose your weekly sermon into creative content. Every week you are working hard at building out 30-45 minutes of solid, biblical content. Don’t have it end at the church service.

    1.  Blog post 

    2.  Short video clips across social 

    3.  GFX with one-liners for social 

    4.  Small group curriculum 

    5.  Email blast – personalized

How can you creatively repurpose your last sermon? Who can you invite into the creative process to write, design or strategically use your content beyond Sunday morning?

Sustain  

Tip #3: Child-like wonder produces creativity.

    1.  Nap time 

        -  Build in time to rest, to walk, to imagine, to dream

    2.  Be curious 

        -  Ask questions, make observations, brainstorm

    3.  Play time 

        -  Engage in fun and creative activities on your own and as a team

Jenny proclaims, “our God-given creativity is one of the greatest weapons we carry – it’s time we fight for it.” She closes with prayer, which, in my opinion, is the greatest example of how we fight for one another. Through prayer, we lift up our own relationship with the supreme creator of all things, we intercede for our team members and for the creative solutions we can come up with together for the Glory of God. She reminds us, “The Creatives that Pray Together, Stay Together”.

So, what would our ministry lives look like if we had time and space to creatively tap into God in this way, to be guided by our spirit as God reveals truths and ideas to us for the purpose of expanding His Kingdom here on Earth? I think we would all jump out of bed eager to see what new thing God has for us each day. I share Jenny’s passion for the necessity of creativity in our work, our ministry and our leadership. Creativity inspires us and others to reach for something beyond ourselves and to make stuff that matters!