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Valuing Creativity

Matt left a comment on my last post, asking me to expound upon, and even answer, some of the questions I posed. I'm happy to oblige.

What if instead of making people think like us, we valued creativity where we saw it?

In some cases, the church has narrowly defined as acceptable only the knowledge it produces. While this was fine in the Middle Ages, when churches carried money and clout and produced the latest inventions and scientific knowledge, the church hasn't been the authority figure it once was. And this might just be a good thing, given its antagonism to things outside its sphere of influence.

Galileo showed the church that they were wrong, and he was thanked by being put on house arrest. In a similar vein, many churches, instead of embracing the latest research in science and society, shun findings and decry healthy cultural recommendations simply because "that ain't how we do it."

These ideas include:

  • Climate change
  • Abstinence-only education
  • Evolution
  • Family dynamics

While every side in any debate regarding the above issues can throw research back and forth at one another, the point is this: when the church decries something simply because to embrace it would require a change of heart, it is not assuming its God-given role to be a positive force of change in the world. And that's called heresy.

Churches are quick to laud praises upon individuals who are going to be pastors and missionaries. But what about our children with scientific, journalistic, or educational ambition? Churches are quick to define good music as songs with words to God or about God, and as a result, countless songs with creative and redemptive qualities are left unheard by the people who could be motivated by them the most. Also, talented musicians are left outside the church, their skills not welcome if they can't play a Michael W. Smith cover.

When the church insulates itself by defining allowable creativity as only that which it already agrees with, it's voice is silenced to a world left wanting. When the church only blesses innovation and inspiration in the areas of worship and polity, countless individuals are left without a place to express their deepest longings in a healthy and important way.

By trying to remain insular in the names of safety or correctness, the church will shrink into irrelevance, and eventually, extinction.

Instead, the church should honor those individuals and communities coming up with new and beneficial ways to make the world a better place. By partnering with organizations already doing good work, the church extends its redemptive powers to a world in need. By acknowledging people and places that are changing the world for the better, the church can transform lives in newer and better ways for the sake of the Kingdom of God.