What can creatives offer the Church?
Most companies and churches that use creatives primarily solicit them for help with something graphically oriented to deliver a product rather than for lack of better words a solution. Management and leadership use, misuse and abuse them. They just don’t know how to include them from the very start but only recognize them mainly for their physical craft and skill. What creatives also offer is their ability to be able to take a step back to look at the larger picture, brand or entity. They can be and mostly are problem solvers, idea generators, and storytellers. They look at the heart of what they are doing and create to evoke something in themselves and the user. They create and cultivate culture. The good ones that is. Not all creatives are created equal.
Moreover, this act of creating and cultivating is not limited to artists and designers. There are many different forms of creatives who are at heart, communicators to a community of individuals offering to help make their lives better. When those in the chruch realize a divine posture of creating and cultivating in all that they do, the church will be like a city on a hill.
Andy Crouch of the Christian Vision Project says this,
The church is called to maintain a posture of cultivating (Gen. 2:15) and creating (Gen. 2:19).
These are two separate roles, an artist creates new things not in the world to make the world better, while a gardener takes the beautiful things of the world and cares for them that they might be their best.
Instead, we have made our posture one of condemning, critiquing, copying and consuming.
Each of these are appropriate and often necessary but should remain GESTURES
– not become our overall posture.
There are two basic ways we present ourselves to the world as believers: gestures and postures.
Gestures are the things we do, and postures are the way we carry ourselves.
We have creatives and individuals that have great ideas but not all are able to bridge their ideas with the creative end or are able to articulate their ideas either verbally or concretely. It’s like vision and implementation. Most falter in implementation. Then we have some creations that are so radical that the majority is not yet ready to embrace it. Judgment and harsh criticism is often cast. We have these dynamics in nearly every walk of life.
We have those who create exactly what they were asked to do or replicate something already out there that works. They often end up as copy cats. They’ve got the mere skill but often lack depth. We end up with results that may look pleasing to the eye but are usually temporary, unoriginal, generic, and lifeless. Those who copy well are able to improve upon the original. I think that’s a mode of inspiration. But most of the stuff that we have out there are merely imitations whether it’s a product (i.e. the ipod vs the zune) or companies (pepsi vs coke). How about churches, and even people? They promise something different. Something better. There are subtle differences and we do need many different choices of which to choose from even though in the end it’s all pretty much the same. That’s a very utilitarian view. The difference in what matters then is the experience and the value. OK that’s enough of that. Let’s get back to the need of creatives in the church.
Working With Creatives in the Church
Leaders should include creatives right from the start or at least begin to find out who they are in their congregations. I understand that generally it can be difficult to work with creatives who tend to be non-linear out of the box thinkers, idealistic and emotive especially when most church leaders are very linear thinkers, results driven and often lack the ability to communicate what they want in the creative sense. You’ll hear it’s too dangerous, ridiculous or impractical. There’s bound to be conflict. That’s ok. Messy but ok. Nobody likes messy whereas artists tend to dwell or get stuck there. For many leaders this type of conflict can be viewed as roadblocks to getting results. It could just be God’s way of refinement for our lives and shaping our character. However, quite often leaders are more interested in a working and results driven manufacturing process rather than deal with the risk of creation. It’s like a paint by numbers set versus a blank canvas. In some of the ways we do church we churn out people like a paint by numbers set. Life and community is much more organic.