I just received John O’Keefe’s book Boneyard: Creatives will change the way we lead in the church. Now as you can imagine I get a lot of books to review but this one really caught my attention – partly because I too believe that we need to rediscover our creativity and allow it to shape our faith and our faith communities. So it jumped to the top of my pile and I have not been disappointed. This is a book that is well worth a read. It is very thought provoking and hopefully will initiate creativity and imagination in its readers.
What I found most helpful in this book is the understanding of the societal change we are going through from left brain to right brain thinking. O’Keefe contends that we are moving beyond the information age to the conceptual age and in this age:
for a conceptual leader the idea is not one drop falling into the pond, it is a rain storm hitting the pond from all angles. The intent is that all people in the community influence the leaders of the community, open source…. This means leadership is a shared communal event. (101).
As you can imagine this idea really resonated with me, as we have grappled with this same issue. Creativity multiplies when we open our ourselves up to the possibility that God speaks through all people. It is however messy. It requires empathy, it opens us up to being touched by the pain of our fellow journeyers.
This type of leadership is fluid, organic and flexible. And just a few other gems from the book:
- artists have a deep understanding of the culture around them and they unleash the culture in what they create.
- Creativity is always an expression of truth (sounds like those purple clouds and yellow skies again)
- If we do not create we do not express the creation of God
O’Keefe ends the book by asking the question “What can we offer people today? What does God offer us that is different than what the culture offers?” What a great question for all of us to grapple with. And I love this response:
In a Conceptual Age the idea of eternal life has value, but the here and now also has great value because this is where our story is being told. The Story persona of a conceptual leader reflects the struggling of the here and now as something we need to help overcome as opposed to surrendering to the hardships…. Our story possesses the ability to show people how to live in Peace, how to share that Peace with others and how to bring about that Peace in the world. (198)
We are called to bring about God’s Peace in this world and to do that we need the creativity and imagination of all God’s people. It needs to be dynamic, able to grow and change. O’Keefe concludes:
In a community of faith the organism moves, grows, and changes: our journey becomes open, creates, dances listens, plays and tells the Story.