Creativity & The Gospel

Having friends who point you in interesting directions is a wonderful thing. Sam Persons Parkes introduced me to Doug Pagitt’s website. Doug is a leading voice in the Emergent church movement. In my studies, I have dug very deeply into the missional church movement. While the missional movement and the emergent movement are cousins (some would say brothers), they have a distinct set of leaders. The emergent movement is a great gift to the church, but my desire for precision in my study has kept me from looking very deeply into the emergent movement.

In delving a bit deeper, I have listened to a bit of Doug Pagitt’s podcasts. They can be accessed through iTunes or through his website. During one talk, he deals with creativity and how creativity works. Along with comparing creativity with sex as something that you should just do and not talk about so much, he gave some keen insight.

Real creativity is not just dressing something up differently according to Pagitt. Creativity strikes at the core of new life. If you are a Coca-Cola distributor, you can’t change the product. All you can do is change the bottle, or the can, or the advertising. Pagit says that Christianity is different. The gospel is continually renewing itself in the lives of people. Therefore, simply dressing it up differently is not creativity at all.

Creativity in the Church is reshaping the practices, the formation, and the community.

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Tribes – Seth Godin

Here are a couple of thoughts from Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, a recently published book on leadership of movements.

Seth Godin says that a tribe is a crowd with a leader, a way to communication, and a shared interest. His use of the term is really quite seditious.  He encourages leaders to step out and lead.  He has a particularly bad view of organizations (or factories) as stilted, dead, and impersonal.  He has no use for organizations.  What does this say to the church?  If we believe that the Church has been given the Holy Spirit and has worth, how do we measure the importance of a movement versus the pain that it may inflict upon the broader Church (the broader organization).

He often calls the leader of tribes “heretics” because they go against the normal understanding of business organization.  He suggests that they might even be treated as heretics, but this ends up being good in 2009 because heretics are no longer burned, they are celebrated.  In a quickly changing world, the heretic who has the courage to stand and deliver on something new and innovative is the hero.  How does his understanding of “heretic” interact with the church’s understanding of “heretic”?  When he says, “Heretics must believe,” (p. 46), what does he mean?  How does this statement inform Apostolic innovation?

This is one of my favorite quotes:  “Religion at its worst reinforces the status quo, often at the expense of our faith.” While Godin certainly does not approach the task of leadership from a noticeably Christian perspective, much of what he says strikes at the heart of how the church is organized and responds to Apostolic creativity.

Tribes is an interesting read that seems to point to the next step in the changing world of leadership.