Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Creativity and Youth Ministry

While an understanding of creativity has traditionally been to celebrate differing viewpoints and expressions of one’s faith, the postmodern interpretation of creativity in the West has slowly been transforming into a movement that is attempting to establish a monopoly in the marketplace of ideas. Buzzwords like “diversity” and “tolerance” are now at times ironic terms that take on meanings quite opposite of their original definitions (especially when a person’s viewpoint is ever deemed to be counter-cultural to the popular viewpoint of the day).

It is in this landscape that our youth are living in, where in order for their creativity to be celebrated, it must acknowledge that everything and anything is morally okay, as long as it doesn’t impede upon the values of the others. Anything less than this is militaristically renounced and labeled as offensive. At best, your voice will be drowned out by individuals who have more followers and who express their viewpoint louder than yours; at worst, you will be shamed, verbally assaulted, ridiculed, or possibly threatened. Today’s youth have a keen awareness of this delicate situation, for they live it every day online and in their schools. But what does this mean for the church and for our youth ministry through the lens of creativity?

            Creativity is a gift given to us by God. No other lifeform on earth possesses the creative capability that humans do, because we are the only ones made in the image of God. Just as God created the world and everything in it, we have been given the ability to take what has been made available to us by God and create new concepts, structures, and new technologies. Not only does our mind have the ability to ponder about what we can do in our future, we also have an imagination that helps us get there. This level of creative freedom is to be celebrated, for the diversity of God’s creation alone reflects this. It is through our church and our youth ministries that we can provide an environment through which our teens can freely express this God-given freedom.

            With today’s youth understanding more than ever that they have the power to be content creators, the youth ministry can become a viable forum for students to share their creativity. In elementary school, we are encouraged to explore our artistic side by drawing pictures, creating a sculpture in art class, or writing a poem. However, students are no longer receiving these types of assignments in high school. Instead, the arts are seemingly placed aside within the education system as we grow older. Through opportunities like spoken word, drama, art, poetry, or more, the youth ministry can allow its students to recapture a facet of their imaginations that used to be so widely celebrated when they were younger.

There are many ways to make room for creativity to flourish among our students. For example, perhaps the youth ministry can set up a pumpkin carving evening during the Fall, or work together with the worship team to have a multi-sensory worship experience that invites students to openly craft while the worship team plays. Perhaps the student body would take delight in the occasional “improv night” where the youth ministry invites students to the stage to spontaneously act out Christian-themed scenes with goofy props. Should there be a handful of students that are exceptionally passionate about creative arts, there may even be opportunity to organize and run a student-led stage production that sells tickets and gives opportunity to raise money for the youth ministry.

The youth ministry can provide a unique opportunity in the lives of students to express their faith through a bold medium that is energetic, vibrant, and in the moment. It is an area that may likely be lacking within their lives; if executed strategically, such a youth ministry may satisfy a creative hunger that the students never realized they may have had.

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