We didn't have much, to say the least, which led to many adventures being played out across the pastures there. There were battles fought, castles stormed, spy missions carried out, bottle rocket wars, and lots of flashlight tag (with cousins, not alone...that would be pretty boring). There was no lack of adventure. Any old tractor part, abandoned wagon, or tree was fair game.
There's a huge part of me that longs to live with such imagination, creativity, and freedom. Oblivious from the pressures of the world and the demanding pace of life, I was free to get carried away into other worlds to save the day from impending doom and destruction.
But things are different now...
Now I sit and watch my kiddos playing and hope they cling to their childlike faith as long as they can. I watch them creating their own adventures with forts in the living room, stories that fill pages and pages, mismatch costumes (and pictures sometimes colored on the walls...not ok), all the while feeling the pressure to lead them well, protect them where I can, prepare them where I should, and love them faithfully.
And I'm reminded--creativity for all of its wonderfulness--is messy. Imagination is risky and often means laying aside our pride.
It is easier to stay the same old course. Doing what needs to be done rather than all the could be done. We're much less likely to fail, much less likely to be criticized, and much less likely to be hurt by criticism we get for putting ourselves out there and taking risks.
Yet in youth ministry, creativity is often a huge piece of the puzzle that is working with teens. Following Jesus and leading others to do so means we must always be looking for ways to take the same messages to different people in different ways.
How do we take the unchanging truth of the gospel and communicate it to teens year after year in a fresh way that engages them where they are?
This will often require creativity and imagination. And this will almost always be messy.