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The Church Creative: how to be a creative gathering in the 21st century Paperback – July 24, 2012
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From the Inside Flap
Mustard Seed Associates
Creating the future one mustard seed at a time
This spirited book fizzes with ideas and strategies to make your church more creative and your faith more feisty and fun. Think of it as Red Bull in book form.
Best-selling author and professor (Drew University, George Fox University)
Chief contributor to sermons.com
John O'Keefe has written a helpful guide for Creatives in the church as well as for those who love and lead Creatives. I've heard it said that the next great move of God will show up through the arts and creativity. I think John's book is evidence of that. He addresses the unique characteristics that Creatives possess and explains how this matters in our present-day faith communities. John ties in the digital revolution and shows us how technology and creativity are shaping the church of the future. His book will help assure Creatives everywhere that we are not crazy with our What if questions. Church as usual is over. Time for the body of Christ to let loose our inner Creative and discover new forms. John's book will help us to do that.
Blogger and Author of Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church: pamhogeweide.com
There is no guarantee that any book about leadership will answer all your questions. In fact it's better to say that any good book on leadership will help you find the right questions. That's what John O'Keefe's new book does. John guides us from lethargy to creativity, or as Kathleen Norris put it, acedia to grace. Technology, art, rich symbols, faith and friendship. These have always been the tools for creativity. John reminds us. I dig it.
Minister for Christian Formation and Family Life
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
PhD student in Liturgical Studies, Graduate Theological Union
If John O'Keefe were an umpire his favorite phrase would be "I call em like I see em". The Church Creative rolls its eyes at the programmatic play books faith-leaders have brought to the field and calls out the church to engage its God given creativity... becoming something so much more.
O'Keefe is in your face... but on your side, as he says... "It's up to you to dance within the rhythms creativity brings"
Local Compassion Pastor, Westgate Church, San Jose
Speaker, Writer, and Entertainer
We do need creatives continually embodying the changeless gospel for us in our rapidly changing environments.
So I heartily recommend The Church Creative and pray mine and yours will be one for the love of God and for the sake of the whole world.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Duke Vipperman
Missional Coach, Diocese of Toronto
Incumbent (Pastor), Church of the Resurrection (The Rez) Toronto
Any visit to the average church will convince an observer that we generally lack creativity and imagination. Surprising and even disturbing given we are made in the image of the great Creator. Something is wrong and something needs to be done! John O'Keefe is bent on fixing the problem,
Minister Tribe of Los Angeles
Author (with Alan Hirsch) of Untamed.
In my work leading clients through personal and organizational change, I've discovered that there are two kinds of teachers: Those who teach you information and those who impart the art and love of learning itself. Information alone carries an inherent expiration date - knowing how to learn from the inside-out prepares you for a lifetime of curiosity, adaptation, synthesis, innovation and new creation. John O'Keefe, an experienced curator of holy mischief in digital and tangible worlds alike, is a teacher of the art of learning. In these pages you'll find pathways to tapping into your own God-breathed creativity to reframe seemingly insurmountable challenges. The Church Creative gives curious leaders and communities the implements to plow the hardened ground of collective stagnation, so that the seedlings of tomorrow can burst forth - today. So what are you waiting for? Commit to reading this book over the next 48 hours, and then get to work. Your neighborhood and spheres of influence are hungry!
About the Author
Dr. John O'Keefe is a pastor, author, speaker and consultant. He blogs at johncokeefe.com, a place where our ancient faith meets the 21st century. John holds a BA in Business from The University of Nevada at Las Vegas, an MDiv Drew University and a DMin in Leadership in the Emerging Culture, Future Studies from George Fox University.
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Top customer reviews
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John does not look at a program but new way of thinking about being church.Using our minds to re-imagine to be a Christ -community in the 21st century.
I am buying this book again( only the second one in 30 years of ministry )and giving it to the leadership of my church to read.
John also addresses early on the need for the creativity to expand beyond the typical approaches of churches toward creatives. Any mention of music leads to the worship team and any mention of drawing or painting leads to restrained (trite?) murals or illustrations for the church news letter. This type of response by church leadership toward creatives does neither any good, for church or local community. Instead of limiting creatives to the typical, he calls for leadership to release them and learn from them.
Throughout the book, John touches on the creative process and creatives, those who create, be it prose, poetry, paintings, sculpture or song. Creativity and those who embody that way of seeing the world, can be beneficial to the mission of the church. The creatives will see things from a different perspective, provide different answers to problems, connect dots that look like they could not be connected. Part of the creative process is working with certain limits, framing limits if you will. The limits of canvas size, medium, length of poem or story, style, meter, material and so on. The other part for the creative is pushing against those limits in such a way that truth and beauty are revealed or even the ugliness and brokenness of the world is exposed and calls one to do something. John encourages those gatherings seeking creative engagement, internally and externally, to embrace the tension of creativity and not fear failure. Fear of failure may be one of the greatest hindrances to creative life. All it takes is one thinking, `What if it doesn't work?' or `What if no one likes it?' These are the wrong types of `what ifs' to focus on. Courage and boldness are needed among the gathering of followers of Christ. Stepping out in faith-filled creativity may lead one on a wild goose chase, yet when the wild goose is the Spirit of the Living God, no telling where the adventure may lead.
Suppression of imagination has long been a hallmark of fundamentalism in the worst sense of the term. How can leaders / systems keep followers within all too narrow confines if creatives keep dreaming up all sorts of new things? It's like the proverbial herding of cats! Suppressing creatives gives the impression of preserving what we have. The irony is that every church and church leader is a beneficiary of "elaborate creative adaptations" of the past (Alan Roxburgh).
But that was then. This is now. "It is a sin to sacrifice the next generation on the altar of your preferences" (Beth Fellinger). Whether your theology or tradition is or is not conservative, emergent, bounded or centred, whatever, giving creatives their leave to do their thing can free a lethargic church into ad-libbing vital fresh expressions of the life God is giving. That's the promise of this path.
As a missional coach, I am keenly aware what a delicate task it is to listen people into free speech, so leaders may create open environments in which the faithful may develop their own missional imaginations, so we all may try never before dreamed of transforming experiments. The timeless truths of Jesus, if they are to convict and convert today, must be recognizable to us and to people living in our cultures. We need creatives continually embodying the changeless gospel for us in the language of these our rapidly changing environments. The Church Creative is a welcome companion on that journey.
Don't be fooled by his chatty style; Dr. O'Keefe knows what he is about and many of the obstacles you face. Insights have been garnered from His own life, creative churches he has been to and those for whom he acted as consultant. A way to open up church creativity is outlined at the end, but don't jump there. You as a leader may first need to set yourself free from many inner roadblocks- none of which Jesus requires. Dr. O'Keefe also helpfully addresses the vexing question of how to be creative while honouring the legitimate boundaries within which we minister. Look elsewhere for a meticulous theology of creativity, history of sacred art, meeting your personal muse or, for that matter, flawless grammar, especially as the book is drawing to a close. That entirely misses the point.
This book is about church and the Church Creative sets out a simple and scientific basis for corporate creativity and gives wide ranging, practical advice particularly about creative gatherings and speaking the "Digital Narrative." I hope this will not be the last book on the subject.
God has already gifted your flock with a surprising number of those who are Creatives.
Dr. O'Keefe has given you the what, why and how.
It's up to you to choose when and where.
I pray that those you and I serve may be set free to be a Church Creative for the love of God and the sake of the world.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Duke Vipperman
Missional Coach Diocese of Toronto, Canada
Priest and Pastor Church of the Resurrection (The Rez), Toronto