I was invited recently for a meeting. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose was before I got there and I’m not even that sure the person who called it knew.
At one point they also asked me this question “ Do you realise how far “Out There” you are?”
Now I guess if I was looking for an ego bump or a sense of identity from not fitting in I would have heard this question as a compliment. But to be honest it made me despair that I would ever find a home in a church. In fact I left that meeting feeling lonely and depressed.
It’s probably my own fault. I’ve always looked for clothes that were different or picked a car that was different or a dogs name that was different. I’ve always sought to stamp my individuality on the world by being as unique as I could be. In fact I’ve been doing that so long I don’t even think about it. And I probably even convince myself that I am just like everybody else. My denial is complete.
But you know, I suspect that most people just want to belong. I’m pretty sure nobody grows up dreaming of being alone or lonely. We all want people to accept us, love us and “get” us. We desire to be heard and understood. Celebrated and cherished. Don’t we? Does anyone really want to be told they are “Out There”
You know its maybe an Irish thing. Maybe even a Belfast thing or possibly even a small Belfast church thing but being asked if you realise how far “out there” you are is not a statement I encounter anywhere else in the world.
In Canada and America and Europe I find myself not just tolerated but frequently celebrated. In fact I recently had a church pastor who’d once tried to hire me explain that they hadn’t hired anyone else because they realised there is just one Brian Houston. Now that felt good. I think he was saying the same thing the guy in Ireland was saying but just framing it very differently.
Most creatives struggle to belong. They have a different perspective, a unique approach and a level of sensitivity that far exceeds what many folks consider normal. Thats usually what makes their work stand out. Creatives are designed to stand out or at least their work is. If it ain’t eye or ear catching then its possible the rest of us will ignore it as our busy lives roll by.
So if you have a creative person in your house, your family or your church please try to make a space for them. In fact the more weird and wacky they are, the more you should work to hold onto them.
Conformity is not a language creative people speak.
They will be the person who challenges you, bugs you and makes it hard for you to understand them. But they will also be the person who makes others uncomfortable.
But the only reason people move from the status quo is because they are uncomfortable.
Without the voice of the creative life is a slow drift to the middle.
And if we silence this unique prophetic voice entirely we will wake up one day with a very bland and beige landscape. A landscape devoid of all colour, longing for freshness and bereft of all brilliance. And by then it will be too late. Death soon follows.
I’ve been involved with a few churches over the years. Some even had high profile status as art their creatives produced travelled round the world. But I’ve seen very few churches where creatives are an integral part of the leadership.
If we want creativity, imagination and radical newness to emerge from our congregations we need to have creative people with weird ideas on our boards and leadership teams.
Diversity will only appear in our meetings when its represented in leadership. Our leadership needs to reflect where we are going, not where we’ve been.
Please feel free to comment or share as I very much welcome your views.