I know what you’re thinking.
Other than ‘physical fitness,’ ‘cool,’ ‘relevant,’ and ‘risk-taking,’ creativity is probably the last assemblage of consonants and vowels you’d word-associate with the ministry.
After all, pastors must walk the tight-rope of being liked, being accepted, and not upsetting the status quo one iota. Pastors are boxed in by the ancient Christian tradition on one side and antiquated congregational traditions on the other. Pavlovian pastors must navigate their way through the winding rat maze of dysfunctional denominational bureaucracy where ‘process for process sake’ is but an unspoken paraphrase of the Gospel.
None of which, it would appear, lend themselves to the virtue of creativity.
And yet…and perhaps its only for my own mental sanity and soul survival, one of the best things about being a pastor is that every day I get to creatively engage my faith and the scripture that enlivens it.
What every Christian should get the opportunity to do, I actually get paid to do.
I mean, what other job would allow me to collaborate on a song about Isaiah’s prophetic nudity, set to the tune of Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ entitled ‘Yahweh?’ In what other job could I creatively tackle a talking ass (Numbers), 100 foreskins (1 Samuel) or a she-bear who breaks bad on little kids for making fun of a bald guy (Kings).
Where else could I teach a children’s sermon on the atonement using a live goat, borrowed from a Muslim family (scandal, I know) and ladies lingerie worn by a Navy Captain?
And where else could I design a Sunday School curriculum around the Book of Leviticus?
Those are just extreme examples of a more general job perk. Whether it’s the regular routine of writing a sermon, planning an adult class, developing mission team devotionals or designing a worship experience, one of the best things about being a pastor is that I get to be creative.
Every day I get to stick my hands way down deep in the sandbox of scripture and lift out something surprising that, if I only find an engaging way, can speak a Word to someone.
Ministry affords me the freedom to be creative, trusting that if its attempted in good faith it will be received graciously- which is itself an act of loving faith too on both my part and my congregation’s.
Which brings up the actual, theological point.
One the one hand, creativity can be seen as taking a risk. On the other hand, seen with the eye of faith, creativity isn’t taking a risk so much as betting that the Holy Spirit is real, at work in and through us, and will show up to bless, further and perfect our efforts.