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What if every church … had a think-tank?

Juggling work, family and community commitments can wear down even the most energetic of people so when do we schedule time to take a breather and let creative ideas around church flourish? Scott Guyatt contemplates what could be achieved if every church had a think-tank.

Life in congregations can be incredibly busy, particularly for those with multiple leadership roles who potentially dash from meeting to meeting, carrying a substantial load of congregational responsibilities on top of what are often already busy lives at home, work and the wider community.

Church council agendas are packed with important items in the life of the congregation, from strategy to budgets to discipleship to pastoral issues to building and property concerns.

Church councillors have a lot on their plate.

And we’re in a time when the constant refrain is that we need to find new ways to be church, fresh approaches and innovation in practice.

All of which makes research around busyness and creativity of interest to me.

Studies suggest that carrying a high mental load can dull the capacity for creativity and that creativity often emerges from the capacity to be still, to rest the brain as it were. 

Further, the research suggests that this applies to everybody, not just to those we often think of as being “born creative”. We can all be more creative if we give our brains space and time and rest.

It makes me wonder about setting aside a handful of people in the life of our local church and tasking them with simply being our think tank or our “wonderers”. Leave them free of the (important) work-load of church council, minimise other leadership tasks for them, and simply ask them to notice, to wonder, to create and to suggest on our behalf.

The think-tank could be offered the freedom to bring ideas and suggestions to other leadership groups in the life of the church—some fully formed with implementation plans attached, others that might be a mere kernel, a seed ready to be planted and watered.

Of course there’s no guarantee that the ideas generated would work, or even that they’d be adopted or pursued … that’s not the point. The aim here is to give a small group the freedom to explore, and to bring the best of their exploration to share with the rest of us.

The other (and perhaps preferred) alternative is to build more space into our whole life as a congregation, to make sure that we (all) have the room to breathe and create and wonder both collectively and individually.

Either way, the point is to generate stillness for the sake of creativity. In a world where busyness is the new black, where a lack of busyness brings a sense of guilt with it, the decision to intentionally pursue peace and space for the sake of creativity stands as a counter cultural approach. 

It reminds me a little of the stories of Jesus retreating to the hills or the wilderness to pray when it seemed like there was just too much going on.

And so I wonder … what if every church made space for creativity in the form of a think-tank, or an intentionally quieter life.

What if every family and individual did the same?

Scott Guyatt

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