Monday, July 25, 2011

The Spirituality of Creativity

I have received interesting emails and Facebook messages following this past weekend's teaching at The Vineyard. It seems as though a lot of people needed to hear one of two things: 1.) That it is just as Biblical/spiritual to ask questions as it is to answer them. We should not be afraid of verbalizing the big questions of life. 2.) That it is time to go for it, creatively speaking. I have had a dozen emails of people telling me that they are going to practice hospitality, or finish a novel or pick up their guitar or whatever.

If you missed the weekend,  my task was to give an overview of the literature and poetry found in the Old Testament - books like Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. It was a rather daunting assignment to try to do in thirty minutes. When doing a quick overview of the Old Testament, one is struck by the value that the Bible puts on creative writing, poetry, song, and fictional/allegorical storytelling. As modern Western Americans we tend to value answers more than questions. We value logic over emotion. Data over imagination. We want direction from the Bible. We want a formula. Perhaps, more than anything, we want it to be practical. But a huge chunk of the Hebrew Scriptures seems unfazed by our modern desire for practicality.

These books are real people wrestling with God in their cultural climate using the forms of art and media that they have at their fingertips. There are more unresolved questions than answers in these books. More imagination than dictation. Sometimes, they even disagree with one another. These books remind us that the journey with God is a process.

I was very excited that my friend Todd Henry was able to join us this weekend.  Todd is one of the people I go to personally when I want to think about creativity and expression. Todd's new book The Accidental Creative just released this month to great reviews from people like Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield. Check out his website to get the book. (And check out his podcasts while you are there - they are invaluable.)

This weekend helped to remind me of something I have based my life upon - that we all have a story to tell. We all have a creative mandate. We are not just allowed, but encouraged, to ask the big questions before we have the answers. Our stories are what make us different than the rest of creation.

This is why I am not just a pastor, but also a filmmaker. The more I go along, the more important it becomes for me to tell stories on film and video. It engages a passion in me like nothing else does. I am learning that the best part of filmmaking is how collaborative of an art form it is. Seeing dozens of people working on one piece of art as a missional community is a beautiful thing. This weekend with Todd was exactly what I needed to cleanse my palate before we begin shooting the next movie August 15th.

Keep praying for  A Strange Brand of Happy. (If you pray - not all of my readers are into the whole God thing. You guys can just think lovely thoughts about me for a second.) It looks like we have most all of the crew and cast, but could still use help with meals, extras and finding some props. You can learn more at the movie's official site - The more the merrier! We'd love to have you join us in this effort to make a movie that asks the big questions while being ridiculously entertained.

My challenge to you this week is to create something - just one thing that didn't exist before your brain thought of it. It doesn't need to be a feature film or the great American novel. It could be a meal, a poem, a business plan or a birdhouse. Just create it. It's what you were created to do.

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