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.
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 man in a field
a box of treasure
a prodigal son
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?