It’s a huge question among churches. One side says, “Now now, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.” The other side says, “But it’s about artistic integrity and beauty, man!” When it comes down to it, you could also argue in terms of stewardship. After all, creation is pretty doggone expensive. But then again, you could argue in terms of integrity. We have a responsibility to explore the creativity God has given us, and copying is just plain wrong.
In other words, the argument could go on forever.
Recently, Tim Stevens took the position of “Create if you can, and creatively copy if you can’t.” He argues that:
You can be innovative without being original. Sometimes the most innovative idea for your church or your community is something that was borrowed from somewhere else. That is okay, because being original is overrated …
… It is 2009, and there are amazing resources available to you. Most our ideas come from taking someone else’s idea and making it work for us. We Grangerize it. That is, we make it work for our culture, and that is okay with us. We truly do not care whether what we do is original or not–we just care if it works. If it is effective, who cares whether we got the idea from a church in Tupelo or off of YouTube? If we can use the idea to impact our community, why does it matter if it is an already-been-used idea from LifeChurch.tv or Willow Creek?
[Note: And just to be clear, borrowing someone else's idea and building on it does not mean stealing their work. It's OK to be inspired by someone else's work. It's not OK to steal their work.]
He does also mention that he fully supports creativity, newness and pushing the limits, but it’s just unreasonable to expect that we can always do those things. So when we can’t, it’s all right to recycle.
Joshua Blankenship wrote a piece for Collide magazine called “Frankendesign” a few months back that takes the position of creativity as a necessity and responsibility. It’s a great read if you want to get the opposing side of the argument. He posits:
“Good enough” is often just that to us–as if God is only concerned with truth and justice, not beauty and craftsmanship. These passive, lazy art and design practices will consistently produce immature artists and designers who are incapable of creating compelling work. They will likely only produce sub-standard works while trying to play cultural catch-up with the rest of the world.
So what do you think, is it a-OK to go with the reduce, reuse and recycle method for your church? Or should you go the extra mile to develop a standard and culture of creativity?