As a creative person and the leader of a group of creative writers, I’m always seeing the creativity around me. One of the places I’ve noticed an unusual amount of creativity is within my church.
The Pianist: She adds notes to basic chords, filling them out so that they resonate with the melody, yet create new harmonies. Sometimes she adds an arpeggio or a crescendo that adds extra texture to the melody—a true art form. Through her creative offering, she helps us worship with Sabbath joy.
The Tech People: They take a basic program and make it fit the particular platform for each Sunday’s theme. They add graphics, PowerPoint, and the correct timing so that people can watch online or stay engaged in person. Through the work and the ministry of technology, the subject of that Sabbath impacts folks an ocean away.
The Design Team: These talented creatives decorate the sanctuary for each calendar season and also for the liturgical seasons. They add color and texture to the sacred space. With updates and changes of décor, with flowers for the season, or a particular winding of material around the cross, we feel comfortable in the space. In our homes, décor creates an atmosphere. The beauty created by the design team offers an atmosphere of peace that worship needs to thrive.
The Pastor: My pastor is particularly gifted as a writer. She can take a scripture, add an anecdote or a quote, sprinkle in a personal experience and all of it results in the type of teaching Jesus was skilled at. Telling stories was how he taught the people great truths. My pastor can do the same while somehow keeping her sermons short enough to keep the attention of a variety of ages. Then she summarizes the entire message and brings it full circle.
Other Musicians: As a musical person, I always enjoy when the choir sings or a soloist offers her/his type of worship. The musical leader helps keep us on tune each week. But even if our voices wander all over the scale, searching for the right notes, s/he stays on task. One of the seeds that germinates into creativity is perseverance. No matter what our response, musical leaders persevere and sing their praises to God.
The People: As I look around my church, I see how a mother dresses her baby. Little bows encircle her head. A frilly dress. Sparkly shoes. An older girl braids her hair in a delicate design or pulls it back with a colorful pin. The various hairstyles and colors, both natural and from a bottle. The veteran who proudly wears his flight jacket. Shoes worn for comfort or for show, sometimes as luck would have it—pretty and practical. Purses that match or provide a pop of color. Hands that gesture and voices that sing in various tones and scales.
Each of us a work of art—God’s masterpiece. Unique in our skin colors and textures. Curly hair, straight, or fine. Tall, short, smooth-skinned or lined with wisdom’s wrinkles. Surely God also looks around and sees us. Certainly, we gladden the heart of God, the first Creator. Check out Ephesians 2:10.
But he looks even deeper. He sees inside our fragile shells, these physical outer coverings that show the wear and tear of life on earth. God sees inside where he recognizes his children, those who love Jesus and love others—that sacred space that provides a home for the Spirit.
God sees the scars that emotional trauma has caused and the various ways we try to hide our hurts. He remembers the healings and miracles he performed inside us whether we asked for them or not. God sees the people he created us to be and marvels at how close we sometimes move toward that ideal.
Yet God responds with grace when we choose to pull away, when fear or grief cause us to reconsider what trust really means. And Jesus understands, because he lived here, too. He knows we are dust, albeit creative dust.
The creativity within churches turns buildings into houses of worship. My particular church was once a real house, a dwelling for a family which later became a home for the soul of our little band of believers. It is the place where we bring our hope each week—where we learn something new about this God we worship. Where we connect once again with friends or watch new relationships blossom.
Then we remember how creativity lives within us and impacts the world as we share God’s love.
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For a creative look at a youth minister’s job, check out The Year of my Redemption.