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Creative Experimentation

One of the early principles mentioned in the building and developing of the Fresh Expressions movement was “creative experimentation.”

Graham Cray wrote:

“God has built experimentation into the fabric of creation.  Civilisation is the history of experiments that worked.  If experimentation is a vital part of being human, should it not be part of church as well?  Many fresh expressions start as experiments, and we pray that they will continue to be filled with the Spirit of creativity.”

What happens if we take that same creative experimentation into the new realities we are working with in the Coronavirus situation.

Here’s five ideas and thoughts to get you started:

  1. What are the experimental ways we can be Church in this new environment?  Maybe people might need songs, liturgy and talks but maybe Church could be more akin to Joe Wicks than Jurgen Moltmann at the moment?  Is there some new experimentation to be done in this Zoom/YouTube/Facebook Live world?
  2. Experimentation means failure.  We are going to need to be willing to fail as we try new ideas.  This might also mean launching several things, seeing what happens and being willing to shut down those that don’t work.
  3. Experimentation can be hard in a time of crisis.  Human nature says we batten down the hatches at this time.  Lets be safe, do the safe things.  How as pioneers can be be people willing to be creatively experimental?
  4. Creativity and experimentation needs energy.  Maybe your first task is to support your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you.  Give everyone a platform of support and then go for it.  Don’t feel everything has to be done now.  There will be new challenges ahead in four weeks, four months, twelve months etc.
  5. Experimentation starts with listening.   What do you see God doing?  What inspiration does this give you?  Probably prayer and listening might be one of the most radical thing to do at the moment.

Steve Johnson in his book “Where Good Ideas Come From” talks about the “adjacent possible” – the brilliant idea just one step away from the place and experience that we are currently dwelling in.  What step could you take today to begin a process of experimentation.  Thinkers like Graham Cray and others believed this is where the Fresh Expressions seed germinated and grew.