experiential brainstorming

Every day, and it’s not even mandatory. What if…?

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As I’ve mentioned before, I think one thing we need more of in Collegiate Ministry is creativity. But truly creative methods aren’t always easy to come by, right?

As the name implies, “creativity proper” is basically creating. As in, from scratch. Creating ideas out-of-the-blue, related to nothing seen before, done before, heard before. Ex nihilo.

This isn’t always what we mean by “creativity,” probably, but it gets at what’s hard about being creative. The more and more a person has the ability to think ex nihilo, the more “creative” they’re considered to be. And some people do have this super-creativity – they really and truly have ideas pop into their heads that have no discernible origins or connections, yet which accomplish specific purposes with the precision of an Exacto.

But this creativity stuff is hard. Creation is hard. It takes omnipotence, or at least some kind of major potence…

Creation is hard.

Derivation is a lot easier.

The big secret to creativity “for the rest of us” is that much (or most, or all) of what we call “creativity” is simply derived. Whether our brains realize it or not, even our most creative ideas may simply be complex derivations of something we’ve seen before, done before, heard before. It’s repackaged, tweaked, or even bettered for our context. But little, if anything, is truly “original.”

For many of us, this point may be a big Duh. But what we can derive from this truth may not be something we’ve considered.

Might one of the easiest, simplest, and most direct routes to greater creativity in our ministries be to expose ourselves to more seeing, doing, and hearing? If the ingredients of creativity are often those “hints from the past” to which we’ve been exposed, then it makes sense that more hints will heighten our creativity.

It’s like brainstorming. But too often our brainstorming happens in isolation (with simply our own brains doing the storming) or, at best, with others in our own circles or ministry. Those people are likely to have a large portion of overlapping experiences in ministry, and thus they contribute less to the wealth of creativity than we would hope.

But experiences – especially with ministries or organizations fairly different from our own – can have a funny way of unlocking creativity. When’s the last time you visited one?

This will be the topic of some posts this week. It’s on my mind because of a particular experience I’ve had here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and if you need a clue it’s right there at the beginning of the post.

[Read the next post in this series here.]

Written from “home” in the Keller household, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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