“A youth worker’s job is to help students grow in Christ, not creativity. It’s ridiculous to expect youth workers to care about students’ creativity. After all, it has nothing to do with a life in Christ.” Youth workers would never talk like this. But what do their actions say? They only give creativity attention when they reach out to “artsy” kids. Why is this? God is the great Creator. Imitation of God has to take this into account. He gives us the gift of creativity to share himself with the world.
I wonder if we don’t teach creativity because we’ve forgotten how to be creative. Could it be that we don’t have any real understanding of creativity? The more I observe the church, the more I am convinced we are just mimics. We copy others in our sermon illustrations, our marketing, our music and our ministries. A quick Google search will yield several techniques to appear more authentic when preaching. That’s right—we’re even copying authenticity.
But in so many ways, your ministry is unique. Imitation won’t always cut it. Learning from others is key, but chances are, your ministry heroes were creative innovators. If God called you to make your youth ministry radically different from the other churches in town, would you? Could you?
In the end, there is a cost for all this mimicking: We produce students who can’t think for themselves and don’t know how to pursue God on their own. They sit in pews waiting to be told what passage of Scripture to read, what song to sing. But when a life crisis arises, will they know how to search Scripture for comfort? When their hearts yearn to praise God, will they know how to sing a new song (Psalm 96:1)? Creativity matters because it’s deeply personal and inherently authentic. It’s an honest way to connect with God. And that’s exactly what we need in our copy-and-paste church culture.