Note from Allen:
The stereotype of the “rock star” youth worker is one of a twenty-something hipster with skills in guitar, disk golf and X-Box. Creativity and innovation are considered necessities. That leaves many of us with a “need not apply” feeling and if you are a youth pastor reading this, you know the apprehensive response when you enlist a volunteer who says, “I am just not that creative.” One of my students (who is a rock star) wrote the following on his blog and I found it so helpful that I stole it for this month’s contribution to relational development.
Everyone possesses the ability to be creative and to display creativity.
Yes, genetics play a part in a person’s creative ability; yes some people are more creatively gifted than others; but here is what resonates with students. Your effort and YOU! The moment we are candid; the moment we try our best; these moments are precious to students. They want more, but can’t express it, they need more, but they do not know what they need. That is where Bible Teachers come into play. Teaching the bible to teens is a high calling.
Ask yourself this, “When you worship God, do you worship Him the same way every time?”
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
When we teach creatively and our hearts are in the right place, we worship God! Creativity can also be known as imagination, resourcefulness, or originality. You do not have to be the best; you only must do your best, but never settle for anything less than worship. My best moments of teaching are when God leads me and I give to others what He has shown me and led me to give.
According to Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is message. Sadly this is true for the majority of students. Media is one of the greatest contributors to this reality. For example, if I am boring when I teach, they will think in that moment, that what I am teaching is in fact boring. Sad, but true.
But there is always hope when it comes to teaching the Bible. Here are four principles of creative Bible teaching:
1. Know the Value of Switching It Up. Instead of sticking with tried and tested methods, Bible Teachers should always be thinking of alternative methods when it comes to teaching the bible. Simply posing the question, “What can I do different?,” or “How can I do this another way?,” Can lead to new ideas which will lead to valuable streams of creativity.
2. Work In Groups. This especially works wells when bible teachers share the same curriculum schedule. Do not be afraid to collaborate with fellow teachers. When you teach together or combine a class for a day, or teachers come together to study some upcoming lessons together; creativity is instantly fostered.
3. Not every idea is going to be a great idea. I wish every idea I had was flawless, or ground breaking, but the first idea that pops into my mind, is not the same as the finished creation. It is important not to knock people who have enough courage to think differently. If people are scared of being mocked then they are going to be reluctant to step forward with new ideas.
4. Creative thinking is only worthwhile if it results in action. There is time and resources to develop and implement the ideas worth acting upon. The resources might be readily available or you might have to go searching, but if it is God’s idea, then he will equip you like he equipped Gideon. The lack of flow of ideas may well end in us feeling dried up which will lend itself to us feeling pointless. Remember, good productivity always leads to tasks that need to be completed.
Creativity does not mean you have to be an artist, or a musician. In fact, some of the most creative ideas have come from some of the most unlikely people.
Don’t Judge me when I say this: Apple is a great example of a company which has benefited enormously from giving their staff the time and the space to be creative. Up to one fifth of their working day is given to creative thinking sessions. Innovation is a key characteristic of the company so it is vital for Apple to inspire staff and to give them the space to be original.
My 7th Grade Sunday school teacher looked like the adventurous Indiana Jones, but in reality he could put the senior adult class to sleep at 8:00 am. But, he really cared about us, the relationship he had with us brought our class so close together. 9 years after he was my Sunday school teacher, he came to my ordination! For me, it showed how much he cared about me!