Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
How do you come up with ideas? I was having lunch with a pastor who was describing an “aha” moment. I asked her what brought about the aha? She said she’d been thinking and praying about the topic for 8 years. Then this big idea struck her. Her moment of inspiration was years in the making. This pastor’s story aligns with what Kevin Ashton writes about in How to Fly a Horse. He argues that creativity is not magic, and often does not manifest in moments of clarity. Creativity comes from hard work. He writes, “To create is to work. It is that easy and that hard.”
Creativity and imagination are the challenge for our congregations and our presbytery. I remember talking with one of the most gifted pastors I’ve known. He was explaining why he was retiring. “Craig, I’ve just run out of ideas.” This is the same statement I hear while sitting around tables with discouraged session members and heartbroken elders. The problem of congregations dissolving is not just financial or aging out, we often lack creativity to see new solutions, opportunities, and breakthroughs.
Ministry in the 21st century requires imagination and creativity. The first step in creativity is to try something. Take an action. Take a risk. Do something. One creative expression of ministry is New Worshiping Communities (NWC). Imagine these as seeds for the future of the church. Our presbytery has birthed four NWC in the past three years. We currently have three remaining: UKirk, Haus Church, and Light for the Darkness. I had a conversation with Rev. Thirza Sayers who is the organizing pastor of Light for the Darkness. I asked Thirza, who is very creative, what is the source of her creativity. Her response? The Holy Spirit! She then added that coming out of a deep depression helped her to see how the light of the gospel brightened her darkness. For Thirza, and for us, our personal experience with God is also the source of our creativity. Our testimony is the key to the door of evangelism.
Education Day on March 21 at Ladue Chapel is about imagination and reimagination. It is about getting our creative chops going as we imagine leadership, church in a digital age, creative liturgy, and doing ministry in the in-between time. We will have training for ruling elders and deacons as we imagine the future church they will serve in. Registration forms will be sent later this week. I encourage everyone to come out and experience the Holy Spirit as we are moved to imagine the church God is calling us to be.
Rev. Craig M. Howard