Posts Tagged “Creativity”

I’ve just spent a few days at college considering play and creativity in the context of church. I have lots of notes and thoughts, but the one that has stuck with me is about space to play and create art.

Play is at the centre of creativity.

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Play is about trying things out.  It’s about testing ideas, positions, opinions and options by imagining what they would be like without committing to them.  Art then, at least partly, capturing what you discover as you play.  This process of imagining something then making it if  done reflectively can be a spiritual practice.

That must surely begin with a playful attitude, the expectation that church is a place that encourages and enables play and art and creativity.  And that means you!  Yes, YOU!

So, how do we create both the expectation and the space for our churches and communities to be creative places?

I don’t think it’s accidental that Messy Church and Godly Play have been two of the most successful things to happen to the church for years.  Why?  Because they centre around play.  Spill the Beans works in a similar way because it centres on story, a playful and imaginative exploration of an incident or idea.

The strength of these approaches is perhaps that they don’t expect masterpieces, just that you take part and see what happens.

That your contribution is valued and valid…

no matter what your art teacher told you at school.

I’m fed up with church being about finding the one, correct answer.  The idea that a parable has one right, correct and universal meaning is just nonsense.  They are stories designed to make us think, imagine, test, explore and create meaning.  So, how else can we explore these meanings except by play and art?

The kingdom of God is like…

Imagine is the kingdom of God is like…

‘is like’ is an invitation to imagine.

What if it is like:

a seed

a man in a field

a box of treasure

a prodigal son

a vineyard

or whatever else we are invited to imagine.

How does that playful, fun, imaginative engagement help us to understand more about God, life and each other?

If that’s no the point of church what is?

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Since my design thinking epiphany the other day I’ve been looking around for more information on what it is and how it works.  I thought posting some links might help me remember where I found things and help you explore this a bit further.

Design Thinking on Wikipedia

d.school @ stanford university has some great downloads to help you think about what design thinking is and how it works.

design thinking for educators has evolved the process to fit an educational context:

     
discovery interpretation ideation experimentation evolution

They have a toolkit you can download.

I know this approach has been around for a while but I really think it offers some great opportunities for youth work and for churches.  Starting with people, hearing their stories and then involving them in generating solutions to their problems has to be a good way forward!

I’ve met lots of youth workers and ministers who feel just like this teacher…

Why Design Thinking? from Design Thinking for Educators on Vimeo.

Are you one of them?  Could this way of thinking help?

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HT to Steven

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Do you ever get stuck?

I do.

I find talking about it helps free the blockage in your brain.

In the conversation the sparks fly and the connections are made.  New things are born and creativity happens.

People who create can’t create if they don’t interact.  It might be with the world, a view, God, a person, a book, a movie, an idea but it’s the interaction that sparks the creativity.

I find that when I’m stuck it’s because I haven’t sought out that kind of interaction.  I sit and look at a blank screen and get more and more stuck.

It’s good to talk.

(thanks to Ruth for today’s creative conversation)

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Whose expectations are you trying to meet?  And why?

People have expectations of us.  At work our boss, our colleagues, our constituents, congregations or customers all have lots of expectations of us, each one as different as they are.

Who sets these expectations and who decides when and if you have met or exceeded them?

I find that often in my work that people don’t know what to expect of me, or that their expectations of what I will do with them are very different to what I think they need.

That might mean that they are disappointed because they didn’t get what they wanted or expected.

Is that a good thing?

Or should our jobs be about meeting people’s expectations?

What room does that leave for creativity, prophecy and vision?

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Last night I was at an open evening at my kid’s primary school.  Their work was on display and I was finding out what the ‘not much’ and ‘nothing’ they do all day is.

Two things struck me.  The first that there seems to be little room for initiative.  I mean real initiative beyond using a  different colour for something.  Castles, islands, knights, maps… all slightly different but essentially the same.

You get good marks for meeting the set criteria.

Seth Godin talks about this:

Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test for and simple to teach. Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.

Initiative is very difficult to teach to 28 students in a quiet classroom. It’s difficult to brag about in a school board meeting. And it’s a huge pain in the neck to do reliably.

Schools like teaching compliance. They’re pretty good at it.

On the wall in each class was a chart asking parents the elements they think should be present to make the school a successful learning environment.

It was an interesting list and I wish I had taken a quick photo of it.  Coherent curriculum, rewarding success, respect, justice….

and also creativity, transferring skills, initiative…

I put my stars there.  But I was almost the only one.  Most parents preferred compliance.

I wonder if church is the same?

‘That’s not how we do that’  ‘That’s so-and-so’s job’  ‘We tried that once and it didn’t work’  ‘This is what the parable means’

Are we teaching compliance?  It is easier after all.

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Seth Godin is shocked.

I was talking to a religious leader, someone who runs a congregation. She made it clear to me that on many days, it’s just a job. A job like any other, you show up, you go through the motions, you get paid.

I guess we find this disturbing because spiritual work should be real, not faked.

I was interested in his perception of religious work because his remarks seem to focus totally on the ‘spiritual’ and not on the ‘work’.

I’m reading Seth’s new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? where he seems to be suggesting that with hard work we can all become the kind of people who create and add value.  He says that we can’t and won’t be a creative genius all day but that the 5 minutes that we are makes a huge difference.  Why should ministry be different?

In his brilliant book Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith Mike Yaconelli tell a story of a preacher he met who was counting the days to retirement, like counting telegraph poles along a long road.  This minister was fed up, tired, drained and burned out.

I’ve met many people who feel like that some days.  I’ve felt like that.  Often.

Spiritual work is hard word.  Some days it feels very much like work, mostly because it IS spiritual work and you feel the pressure to inspire people, to lead and to bring them into the presence of God.

Some days you turn up and go through the motions because it’s work… and we are human.

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