Creativity Within Boundaries

In beginning: God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Genesis 1:1

As a church administrator there is a certain order to this story of creation that warms my heart. There is a goal of conquering the chaos, there is organization to what must be done, there are daily tasks to be accomplished, there is a time of sitting back and admiring what’s been done (crossing it off the list, if you will), and then getting ready for the next day. There is good administration and organization to this job and I like that (I tease my colleagues that Genesis 1 proves that God loves church administrators the most because the first thing God did was get organized – they don’t laugh much).

But look at this story from another perspective: each day had specific things to be done but within those boundaries, there was a fantastic amount of creativity. This shows God’s balance between being right-brained (creative, artsy, subjective) and being left-brained (logical, analytical, objective), the creative and the logical. God established boundaries (left-brain) but within those boundaries, God was massively creative (right-brain). Humans tend to be either right- or left-brain oriented. Very, very few people are both (think Da Vinci as a rare crossover: artist and engineer).

Churches need to use:

  • volunteers who are creative and who are analytical
  • staff who think outside the box and those who are the guardians of tradition
  • people who bring new ideas to the table and those who retain institutional memory

As children learn to use crayons and markers, parents and teachers encourage them to stay within the lines but use whatever colors they want. Staying inside the lines helps with fine motor skills which children must develop but using a variety of colors helps add spice and variety to what is being done. Just as God worked within specific lines, churches must do the same – establish the boundaries and then be creative within those borders.

Churches must establish their boundaries: finances, space, leadership, location, and anything else that will be a constraint to them. No two churches have the same restrictions, but all churches have some limitations. Once a church has defined the lines within which it will work, then it must unleash all forms of creativity. “Blue sky” thinking should rule the day and when ideas bump up against the reality of the borders, then those ideas should come back to reality.

I don’t know how all of this is carried out. I do know that it is possible because I’ve seen some churches do this – they dreamed big, knew what they could and couldn’t do, and then accomplished some incredible feats for the Kingdom. So, be creative but always within the proper boundaries – just like God did.

Lead On!