Effective communication is at the heart of a desire to be creative. The intention of our creativity is something to be shared not closeted. Psalm 33.3 instructs us to ‘do the best you can with the talent you’ve been given’. It’s all about quality over quantity and substance over show.
What’s the point?
The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image and we know that one of His key characteristics is that of ‘creator’.
The culture of the church is dominated by words…’I talk…and you listen.’ And yet this is acknowledged as the least effective way of enabling people to learn. One of the key elements in facilitating a ‘creative retreat’ is that it should be participatory…in this we come to God…and God comes to us. As we participate, we become empowered and not disabled. It creates connections between action and reflection, mind and body, thought and intuition.
A creative retreat needs to be practical.
What’s the truth?
John 8 verse 31 – 32reads…”If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
The truth is that creative activity is an experience of the body of Christ. Creativity can be a solitary experience. But it can also offer an experience of the truth that human fulfilment lies in interdependence with others. Creativity is about nourishing and cherishing gifts. It is about celebrating variety. By way of an illustration, remember the ‘Big Picture’ which was part of ‘Cre8or’ at All Saints as part of the Worcester Arts Festival some years ago. Each person completed their part which when brought together created the whole picture. No one knew what the finished work would look like but the participants were forced to engage with one another to consider how each part / tile would fit together. What St. Paul says about the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) had been encountered and so more deeply understood. As a participative activity, understanding comes from the group, not simply from the individual ‘expert’.
A creative retreat should facilitate opportunities to work together…and in so doing all feel valued.
‘Creativity can stimulate personal reflection and prayer. This is because both prayer and creativity is about paying attention. Activities like drawing or writing demand close observation. Respect for materials is essential to sculpture and the crafts. Listening deeply is fundamental, not only to the creation of music, but also to its performance. But the attention required by creativity is not simply an illuminating parallel to prayer. It can be prayer in itself.’ Creative activities can touch our relationships as well as ourselves.
What’s the future hold?
The arts encourage ‘open ended exploration’. As Christians, we often talk about ‘the journey of faith’. The underlying message in this is one which implies new horizons and unexpected possibilities. Using the arts and creative activities encourages this approach. The artistic practitioner places less value on certainty and proof than on struggle, risk and uncertainty…all this leads to growth. To quote Mother Teresa, ‘the arts speak of making something of ourselves…we can picture that ‘something’ as a painting, a poem, a dance, a symphony…something beautiful for God’…the process of being creative can be as valuable as the product
A creative retreat should provide opportunities for growth, be inclusive and encourage risk taking. In this we need to actively promote creativity as a central characteristic of our worship.