Theology and Creativity: God Cares about Creativity
When you hear the words Theology, Ministry, and Creativity together, does it sound like a game of “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” from Sesame Street? Maybe you’re skeptical about creativity being introduced into the world of theology and ministry. It’s okay if you are; I was, too, for a long time. Even though I grew up in an environment that encouraged creativity and studied Art History as my major in college, as I grew in my faith I began to reject the art world. It didn’t feel important.
I have to confess to you that I think my attitude was wrong. You see, the more I study the Bible and allow it to shape my worldview, the more I see that creativity is an important part of expressing theology and engaging in effective ministry. God is the Father of creativity and he is concerned with it.
Three Examples of God’s Concern for Creativity
1. In Creation
Genesis begins with the words “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1; emphasis mine). Psalm 19:1-6 shows us how the heavens and the earth declare the glory of God, proclaiming His majesty through His handiwork. Take a look around you - God is clearly concerned with creativity.
2. In Scripture Itself
If the natural world shouting God’s beautiful creativity is not enough, we can see this even more clearly in the Bible. We are a people that strive to center our lives around Scripture, so let’s explore creativity there! It seems to me that because we view the Bible as God’s holy Word, (which is a right attitude to have) we can have a tendency to forget that is it also literature, and that it is beautifully written. God chose to reveal Himself and His character to us in a way that we would understand. Furthermore, He didn’t do it in a dry, boring way. No, He did it through the Exodus narrative, the poetry of the Psalms, the drama of the life of Hosea, and of course, the parables of Jesus.
3. In Jesus’ Teaching
In addition, Jesus manifested this creativity. He came as the perfect revelation of God. However, he knew that the message he was teaching would be difficult to understand, so he used everyday imagery to explain big concepts like the Kingdom of God. Think about the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus doesn’t say: “Okay everyone, listen up: Believe in me, take my teaching to heart and apply it to your life now because it will be difficult to do so later, when times are rough.” Instead he tells a story of two builders who built their houses on very different foundations. The first chose to build his house on the rock, while the second man chose sand for his foundation. When a huge storm came, the house built on the solid rock foundation was still standing, but the house built on sand collapsed. By using this illustration, Jesus helped his listeners to understand that what he was teaching is valuable and worth building their life on. While he could have said these things directly, he chose to teach these truths with every day imagery, which makes the lesson more powerful and stick with us.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Maybe this still seems like a daunting idea to you because you don’t consider yourself a creative person. It’s okay; we can follow Jesus’s example of teaching in parables. It is often powerful when we use examples from our own lives to tell others about God’s goodness and work in our lives. Women tend to be more relational- we like to sit together and talk, and tell stories from our lives.
Think about someone in your life whose faith you admire. She has told you about the struggles she’s been through or the adversity she’s faced, but she didn’t just say to you “God is good and faithful, and He is there even when we don’t actively feel His presence.” Instead, she conveyed those wonderful truths through her story. Moreover, because she chose to tell her story in that way, it’s going to stick with you for a long time.
At first the idea of incorporating creativity in ministry and theology might seem intimidating (or even a bit wrong, in my case). We tend to relegate certain people as creative, thinking that it is a quality that not everybody has. However, when we take a step back and see that God Himself is creative and has made us in His image, we recognize that it is something that we all possess and can exercise. I’m excited to continue to explore how creativity can influence theology and ministry, and vice versa in my own life. I hope that you’ll be able to join me at the upcoming Verity Forum, where I’ll be leading a workshop on this topic.
Due to unexpected weather conditions, Verity Forum on Saturday, January 14 will be postponed until a later date. Stay tuned for more information.