A Left Brain Church in a Right Brain World: Adding a Touch of Creativity

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By and large our fellowship, Churches of Christ, are a brainy bunch. We are typically highly analytical and linear in our thinking and approaches to just about anything you can think of. One approach to conceptualizing this kind of thinking that became popular a number of years ago was to call these kinds of thinkers “Left-brained” and the more creative, holistic types “Right-brained.” While the brain doesn’t really divide itself so neatly as the terminology suggests it is a way of describing the way different people think and operate that can be helpful in assessing how our systems and ministries operate.

If there ever was a Left-brained thinker it was Alexander Campbell and from what I have read from Barton Stone and about Barton Stone he at least leaned more right-brained than Campbell did. At least in the South, the Campbell side of our movement and thinking stuck more so than the Stone side and that left us with leadership that is typically highly analytical, all about the facts, and less to do with creativity, the big picture or feelings.

You can think of a Left-brained thinker as a microscope thinker. They are always zooming in on the smallest discernible unit of something and pick it to pieces. Right-brained thinkers are more like binocular thinkers. They aren’t looking in, like the microscope, they are looking out to see the whole of what is out there…emphasizing the journey and experience as much or more than the process.

It is important that we consider this facet of our fellowship for a few reasons.

  1. There are some people who just fit better with us than others. These are the ones who think like we do.
  2. There are some people who struggle to find their spot. They have some pretty amazing gifts without a tapestry in the scope of the ministries of the church on which to express and demonstrate their giftedness.
  3. This can put unnecessary restrictions or limitations on our evangelism as we call people to discipleship without any discernible place for them to do what they are best at (the arts, creative thinking, etc.)
  4. We reward and foster what is most like ourselves. If our leadership is Left-brained they will tend to perpetuate like-minded leadership in the generation of leaders who follow in their footsteps. This can have a generational affect on the life of the church that isn’t necessarily good or bad in and of itself but can be.
  5. Our fellowship can be a hard place for “feelers.” It can be hard for them to find their place and it can be especially hard if they are the ones who have to feel for those who for whom that doesn’t come as natural.
  6. By not utilizing the gifts of all of our members we hamstring our evangelism. When new people come they don’t readily see where their gifts fit the body and so we inadvertently erect unnecessary and arbitrary walls for new people to find their fit.

A church that is moving full speed ahead is a church that is utilizing and leveraging the God-given-giftedness of its members. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, the diversity of functions amongst the parts of the body is congregational strength, not weakness. The problem seems to be that if your leadership doesn’t think like this they don’t understand that need (keep in mind, I don’t think like this!).

What is more, our education system for those who fill our pulpits and ministry positions leans in favor of analytical people so we perpetuate a smaller skill set need in the church body partly because this is the list that is important to those who run the ministries.

What would it look like if we better utilized the gifts of all of our members? What would it look like if we leveraged our artistic, creative people? Here is the bigger question, how might God be glorified through this and the church body edified by opening these doors?

I don’t have a lot of answers for these questions and that’s okay. In moments like those, I turn to people with an expertise and giftedness in these areas to help blaze the trail and let me tag along with them to learn from them in areas where my skill set is weakest. I am just now beginning to question whether or not comic sans is a perfectly good font, if that gives you any idea of the problem. If you have used comic sans in the last 6 months then this post is for you.

Later today, there will be a follow up post with some exciting news here at Wineskins that I cannot wait to share that will help us better speak directly into these issues on an ongoing basis!

Welcome to September at Wineskins!

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