Playfully creative

This is the sixth and final value that our church has recently adopted. The process by which we discerned and distilled the values was using an exercise I call ‘The Ideal Church Exhibition’. Groups, made up of diverse people from across the church, worked together to draw ‘The Ideal Church’ – where the only limit is our imagination. Behind what was drawn are values, so we looked for consistent themes across the different drawings and then looked to express those values in words.

There were drawings of people enjoying themselves.

There were drawings of people expressing themselves artistically.

The drawings that showed the imagination of those who drew them.

So ‘playfully creative’ became a value. If I am honest I wasn’t expecting it, but I love it.

Like Jesus: enjoying and appreciating life in all its fullness, using our God-given talents to express ourselves and to communicate his truth, and looking imaginatively with the eyes of faith to discern and follow God’s will. 

Photo by Scott Webb on

God has given us life, and he longs for us to enjoy it. I know that life can be tough, but my experience has been that it is sometimes those who have the toughest circumstances that have the broadest smile. I think of my time spent with a church in a Harare township and those people LOVED life! What I have seen and realised is that if you have never had video games, computers, TV and mobile phones and if all you have is some dirt to play in then you use that dirt imaginatively. It can become a football pitch, a crocodile-filled river, a place to fly over…

If you’re going through one of life’s dark valleys at the moment then I understand that this may feel difficult for you, and I would hate for you to feel guilt because of what I have written, that’s not my intention. If emotional illness or mental ill health is clouding your ability to see the light, then I pray that you will have people around you who will come and simply be with you. Perhaps in them you may see a glimpse of the playfully creative Jesus who loves you without limit.

What are your talents and gifts? Don’t be shy, admit them to yourself. You may not be a world-renowned artist, a famous actor or even a fair-to-middling illusionist. But there are things you are better at than other people. You are certainly the world best at being you. But you may be an encourager, a supporter, an esteem-builder, an imaginer, a story-teller, a joke-teller… what are you good at? You can take those things and offer them to God as an act of worship as you perform them – if you like, taking what he’s given you and celebrating it with him.

You may be able to use the unique blend of gifts and talents that are yours to help others see God in you.

Martin Luther (the Reformation chap, not Martin Luther King) is reported to have said, “If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.” Well, my hope is that we can get in lots of practice together as church now.


Dear Bloggists

I have some bad news for you. I am back!

aircraft wingSally and I have enjoyed a week’s holiday in the sun as the final part of celebrating being married to each other for 25 years this year. It was very relaxing and refreshing. We didn’t do lots and lots of things, we didn’t visit lots and lots of places. We enjoyed quality time together. It was lovely. It was bliss. It was a real blessing.

And now I have just opened my email inbox for the first time in a week and 211 emails are waiting for my attention… so I have decided to write a bloggage instead of dealing with them! Nothing like a good procrastination to start the day off well!

I want to share a few thoughts with you about holidays. You all know that the root of the word is ‘holy day’. They started as religious festivals on which normal work was suspended (except for the clergy who had to work extra hard). They became associated with days off work, and the concept of holiday became established.

Being away with Sally reminded me that we all need holydays. We need to spend quality time with Jesus – relaxing and being refreshed in his presence, laughing together and getting to know him better (he already knows us better than we know ourselves). But we don’t have to get on an aeroplane to do it (which avoid long waits for luggage to reappear after the baggage elves have jumped up and down on it for a while). And while it is good to set aside special times to do this, any day can be a holyday. It depends less on the calendar and more on our attitude.

If we include Jesus prayerfully in our day, listening to the prompts of his Spirit, sharing our thoughts and ideas, any day can be a holyday.

I am in the privileged position of being able to go away now for a couple of days on a Ministry Refresher Conference. Our Baptist Union runs these each year on a five year rotation basis. As this is my 20th year since my ordination (doesn’t time fly?) I have been invited to attend. For me the timing is brilliant because it means I can finish my holiday with some dedicated holydays. But the journey to the conference can be a holyday, and even starting to answer 211 emails can be part of a holyday too.

Time for a coffee first, though!

Be blessed, be a blessing.