The classroom was divided into three parts: a classic “classroom” with the projector and student seats, a stage area with random props, and a craft area with colored paper and other art supplies: Yesterday was another round of my “creativity in the church” seminar – during which a participant called creativity “awful”, I played a lion and hit my head, and a guy almost made his wife cry tears of joy.
Six people came from different parts of the country. And you could tell they were the right people to sign up. Some were into writing, some did woodworking, some liked to play drama. Together, we spent the day thinking about creativity and how it can benefit the church/life in general.
As a warm-up, we all went to the whiteboard and wrote down what we think of when we hear “creativity” or “church”. In this intro exercise, someone wrote “awful” next to “creativity”. When I asked why she did that, she said that she has experienced rejection/annoyance from other people who don’t understand creativity. To these people, creativity seems awful, or at least annoying.
We took a look at art history and realized: There is a reason why these people are resentful towards creativity. Art and Religion have always been working together in most cultures. But during the Reformation, parts of the Reformation churches banned art because they deemed it too “worldy” compared to the pure “word of God” in the Bible. And then, in the 20th Century, artists became disillusioned and angry at the church: after all, who could trust an institution that had supported both World Wars? So, to this day, art and church can have a tough relationship. However, much has happened since WW2. And creativity and the church can mutually benefit from one another. How? That’s what we worked through the rest of the day.
We learned a little bit about storytelling and how important stories are. No matter how (un)religious you are. And we saw how creativity is, in fact, a core part of Jewish and Christian faith. God is, after all, a creator who appreciates beauty and made us in his image. If that is the case, then we are all creative by default. However, this creativity can either thrive or be crushed, depending on the environments we are in. So, I encouraged the participants to actively create a “creativity-friendly” environment, be that for themselves or their (church) community.
Then, we took to the more practical part of the workshop: We got into three groups and prepared creative contributions to the story of David and Goliath. Everyone did the same story but with a different target audience: either an integrative 3rd grade class with disabled kids, a summer camp for teenagers (who didn’t grow up in church), or a family church service. The result was a hilarious set of skits. In one of the skits, I played both the lion and Goliath. “David” hit me with the slingshot. But when I fell, I accidentally hit my head on the ground. It wasn’t bad, but it gave me a headache. I guess I was in character!
Finally, we learned how creativity can also be used in prayer settings with groups/individuals. In one exercise, we prayed for each other and drew a picture for the person we were praying for. A guy drew a picture for his wife. The picture really moved her and almost made her cry. She was encouraged.
So, all in all, It was a great day. I hope the participants can apply what we learned in their lives. The feedback suggests they could. And I am looking forward to the next workshop!