Earlier this month Dal and I found ourselves in the middle of a church-planning meeting. It turns out that the mission center that I have visited for the past 4 years has been turned over to a pastor and is no longer a mission facility. The bad news is that all the work being done in the past is no longer a concern of the mission board. The good news is that the new pastor is setting up a church from ground zero.
Because we happened to be there, we were asked to sit in on the very first ever planning meeting for Wheelwright First Baptist church (actually it is the second Baptist church in town but . . .)
Our host started with a blank chalkboard and asked the members to list the things that they thought important in a church. The list started with the usual suspects: Sunday school, prayer meetings, church services, maybe an outreach program. Someone added a drama or creative arts ministry to the list.
After a half an hour or so the board was full of ideas and we were directed back to the list to see if we could combine things into groups or categories. Might there be a number of items that could be grouped into a category for worship or for outreach, for example? Someone suggested that the drama ministry be paired with the youth group. Their thinking was that skits had been used in the past as part of the youth outreach. When is tried to pin down what they meant by creative art, the answer was: skits. We squirmed a bit in our seats at that, but said nothing.
I left the meeting exhausted. Good work had been done, but it was unsettling to see our favorite creative ministry, drama, pigeonholed into programs for youth only. I realized that those of us in the business need to educate our boards, pastors and fellow workers that creative ministries encompass all kinds of things, and are for the whole church.
It appears the first concern is what do we mean by “Creative Ministries.” A check of online dictionaries and wikipedia did not help. They gave me definitions of “creative” as anything new or innovative where “ministry” was defined as anything from the performance of religious duties to one that carries out a government post.
A Google search for “Creative Ministries” took me straight to the web site of an organization that does festivals that supports puppet ministries with a mention of dowel rods and magic.
I decided to look at this from a different perspective. I decided to start with the definition of ministries in the Christian sense. That is, I defined ministry as anything that helps teach or understand religious beliefs specifically the teaching of the Bible and the Life of Christ. I then decided this could include anything that would help us deepen our walk with Christ. In my traditional thinking I have thought of creative ministry as drama. But according to the wikepedia definition meaning any thing new. Perhaps this will allow me to add some new things.
I think a better way to define the issue is to look around at the talent and skills of those in the congregation. If I have a magician, can he use this to further the kingdom? What about dance many of churches are now providing a dance ministry for young children but what about using dance as a way of expressing the message? I have been doing skits and balloons as part of ministry put what about clowning, miming etc.?
We need to be open to serving God in many ways. We need to help people see that there are many ways to share the gospel, many ways the express Christ’s love. Creative ministry means we need to be continuously seeking ways to incorporate individual skills into serving God’s kingdom