A Culture of Creativity
This week at EBF, we will be doing another new song that we wrote in-house, a song called “My Great Reward.” It is the result of a collaboration we did back in January on our worship retreat, and I am so excited to share it with the church. The words are a powerful reminder that the Lord Jesus Christ is our reward – not earthly riches or fame, not status or success. The song begs God to remove our idols and shape our hearts and lives into ceaseless worship. I can’t wait to sing it as a church on Sunday!
The new emphasis on songwriting at EBF has been a wonderful time of creativity and serendipity, but we must do so with the right motive. The goal of songwriting cannot be to puff ourselves up, or to create glory for our ministry, or to perceive ourselves as rock stars or the next Bob Dylan. The wrong way to cultivate creativity is to do so out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
The reason we want to develop a culture of creativity at EBF is twofold. First, we serve an immensely creative God, who spoke the world into being and painted the sky with stars, who gave birds spectacular plumage and who made the rays of a sunset golden. We want to image forth God’s creativity by creating art that is covered with the fingerprints of our maker, the master craftsman and Lord of the universe whom we serve.
The second reason we are cultivating a culture of creativity is that our church is unique. In fact, every church is distinct in myriad ways – we share a distinct set of values, we suffer a unique set of trials, we burn for a unique set of causes, and we worship in a unique way. It is not a better or a worse way, as much as it is simply different. EBF is located in Evanston – an affluent, semi-urban center, steps from one of the world’s great research universities. We are blocks from Lake Michigan, and bike lanes and walking paths are rampant. Our people think a certain way, live a certain way, and interact in a certain way. We drink a certain kind of beer. We eat at certain kinds of restaurants. Evanston is not Austin, it is not Atlanta, it is not Prague, it is not Kyoto.
Our people need songs that meet them where they are. Songs that have walked the same streets. At EBF, we sing beautiful songs from churches all over the world. We sing timeless hymns. We want to add to that repertoire a canon of music that is homegrown, and that is specifically engendered within the context of our congregation. Songs that bring hope when we feel overwhelmed. Songs that comfort us when we feel pain. Songs that beat with the hearts of our people and embody our dreams, fears, longings, and heartaches.
What we are setting out to do is create indigenous songs that are authentic to who God is, and to who we are.
Won’t you sing along?