I can’t even begin to express how blown away I am by the creativity of human beings—especially when those human beings are motivated to put all their hobbies, interests and passions into furthering God’s kingdom.
Leighton Hall was filled with people, all refreshed after a good night’s sleep, ready to create and to share. The morning began with worship and then the keynote presentations began. One that particularly caught my interest was Kellyville Adventist Church’s Rod Long (who, with wife Zan, were recipients of this year’s Gabe Reynaud Award*), who shared about Global Resource Collective—a new alternative to the traditional Sabbath School lesson. What does a local community look like when everyone is engaged in the same Biblical text for all ages all week long? That’s what GRC aims to find out. They’ve got “branches” for each age, all studying the same thing. It’s an interesting concept for sure, and I’m keen to see how it goes for them.
Another highlight from this morning was the “Sabbath School” portion of the program. FaithFM’s NNSW team hosted their Breakfast Show live from the stage, and if that wasn’t a testament to the incredible things we can do these days with technology, I don’t know what is. It was interactive creativity at its finest, with the “live audience” engaging with the show through a Kahoot quiz and other fun questions.
I mention Rod’s presentation and the live FaithFM show, out of a myriad of keynote presentations and sessions today, because both of them had something in common that ended up being my lesson today. Rod’s presentation was excellent, and he presented a new concept—one that didn’t sit well with some people. What I heard during his presentation was, “Hey, we’re trying something new here, because we want people to connect with Jesus. It may work. It may not. But we’re giving it a go.” What some people heard was, “They don’t like the Sabbath School lesson? What an insult to our Church. How dare they try to replace it.”
Similarly, I thought the idea of trying The Breakfast Show live was a fun concept, and something that was creative and engaging. One of my colleagues, on the other hand, overheard the hosts being harshly critiqued by an attendee straight after their program.
Here’s the thing with creativity: it is subjective. What appeals to me may not appeal to the next person, or the next person over. While we can appreciate technique and good presentation, the heart of what’s been created either resonates with you or it doesn’t. But more than ever, if we want creative ideas in our Church to succeed, we need to make our suggestions and our critiques positive.
It boils down to something I’ve said a lot in my articles: we need to be less critical of people. If there is someone in your local church, school, or sphere of influence that has an idea to reach people for God’s kingdom, please, don’t discourage them! You may not understand their idea. I get that. I consider myself a creative, and there still some ideas people pitch where I’m left scratching my head and wondering how it’s going to work. That’s why events like Digital Discipleship are so important. As a creative, you can bring your idea to a (literal) round table discussion, gaining valuable feedback and insight on furthering your project.
You may wonder why I’m so passionate about this. One of the highlights of this year’s Conference, and a large part of the Sabbath program focus, was the introduction of an Ideathon. In previous years, there have been “think tank” sessions, where we’ve been given a hypothetical problem, and have to brainstorm on butcher’s paper creative solutions. This year, the problems were real, because the people presenting them were real church members with real ministries in the digital discipleship area.
It was incredible.
We heard from people who have ministry ideas and projects ranging from fitness to how to reach young professionals. There were podcasts on all sorts of different topics, bloggers, and new animated TV shows just for kids. From memory, I think there were about 15 different “ideas”—real ministries that are currently happening—that were pitched. But not only were they pitched, they were workshopped. For the first time, we were able to hear a real problem, and brainstorm with the idea owner to find a solution to their issue.
There was an excited buzz in Leighton Hall during those Ideathon sessions. But I have to wonder—would the vibe have been different if, instead of workshopping and finding solutions to problems posed by one of those ventures, we instead told each idea owner, “That’s a terrible idea. It will never work.” The mood, I suspect, would have been totally different. And instead of having 15 new, creative ways to reach people for Jesus, we would have just lost 15 new, creative ways to reach people for Jesus. It’s a sobering thought.
Sabbath is usually a high time to rest, reflect, and share fellowship. Today, I was thankful for each and every person who was brave enough to say, “I was thinking about how I can reach (insert target audience here) and I came up with (insert idea here).” To all those people, thank you for sharing. To all those who encouraged them, thank you for seeing value in a ministry. And to all those who have an idea, a dream, a ministry—a way to reach people for Jesus—I hope today’s post has inspired you to keep going.
Even if no one else sees the potential in what you’re pitching, know that there is a whole community of digital disciples who are cheering for you.