by Bruce Strom
Are you creative? My friends at Moody Publishing teamed up with another friend, Ken Wytsma, to publish Create vs Copy which answers the question with a resounding YES! The book releases March 1. Ken challenges the lie some of us believe that we don’t have a creative bone in our body. Rather Ken reminds us that all our bones were created by a highly creative God. In the book, Ken takes us on a journey to “restore creativity to its rightful place at the heart of all we do.” p. 18.
Ken provides a wonderful theology of creativity, but his purpose in writing the book is imminently more practical. “If creativity is part of the image of God in us, imagination is the divine spark that unleashes it.” p. 105. The book is an invitation to imagine. Several wonderful works of art and doodles are included which alone spark the imagination. Ken draws from art, science, literature, education and the church to demonstrate the importance of not getting trapped in a closed system that leads to atrophy and death, but to imagine, be creative and innovate. As a pastor he even gives us permission to doodle in church!
Ken’s point is simple and profound. Imagination, creativity and innovation are “essential ways for each of us to interact with our challenging reality and pursue goodness and justice within God’s creation.” p. 167. If we simply copy what others have done before we will not advance in the global world in which we live. He is careful to point out that best practices are worth building on, but they must be re-imagined through the eyes of possibility. Ken frequently uses children’s stories and the imagination of children to accentuate his points. We all have that child-like creative imagination within us and unleashing it adds joy and removes fear and anxiety as we expand our horizons.
Ken’s chapter on Expanding Horizons is worth the book. Not just for the cool story of his daughters and lesson from A Bug’s Life, but for how creativity changes the world. From Shanghai to Africa, Ken shares powerful stories. I’d like to meet his friend, Keith Wright, who has amazing insights into how creativity is changing Africa and how the west needs to change its views and hit refresh on all our assumptions. “We can strengthen our imaginations and pursue forms of redemptive creativity in the world as we steward our influence and become creative leaders.” p. 94.
While Ken’s broader point is that we will change the world as we live creatively, he offers simple, practical steps with questions at the end of each chapter. His examples from his wonderful wife, Tamra, of hosting creative make your own pizza gatherings for new students or purchasing antique photo display stands to flip through family memories, demonstrate how imagination, innovation and creativity are lived out in the every day.
In short this is a book for anyone and everyone. Everyone is created in the image of a creative God and was created to imagine, innovate and create. The more we pursue this creativity and the less we copy or criticize current reality, the better off our lives and our world will be. Ken was reminded of this truth himself when after a long day of travel, he was hanging out in Australia with our mutual friend Eugene Cho. Ken was ranting against the state of the church in America while Eugene graciously sought to steer him to other topics as a humble reminder of looking not at problems but possibilities. Dream more. Hang out with friends. Imagine. And look at the world through the eyes of the possible. You and our world will be a better place as a result.
Thanks for the reminder Ken and I encourage everyone to read the book, share it with others, and then
Go and Be Creative.