On Creative Ministry -- By: Owen H. Alderfer

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 04:0 (NA 1971)
Article: On Creative Ministry
Author: Owen H. Alderfer


On Creative Ministry

Owen H. Alderfer

It seems next to impossible for the minister in the seventies to labor without some sense of inadequacy in the face of the demands placed upon him by the complexity of the age and the needs of the people he must serve. If he is serving in a “traditional pastorate”—whatever that is—the minister is probably tempted to feel that he must do something different and unusual to keep up with the times. The answer, he may feel, is in creative approaches to ministering, and so, in the name of creativity, the minister may introduce all manner of novel and even bizarre forms and expressions into the church. Jazz masses, sensitivity groups, rock combos, dialogue sermons, religious dance, multimedia programs, and a variety of activities ad infinitum find their way into the church in a concern for creative ministry.

That there is need for creative approaches to ministry for the seventies is obvious. This need is perennial. The demand and urgency for creativity is multiplied because of the acceleration of change and variety creating a plethora of demanding situations in the world of the seventies. Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock dramatizes this by pointing out that a line could be drawn somewhere in the 1950’s dividing time in half. Man’s experiences in all time prior to that date would be equal to man’s experience in the few years since that time. This condition puts a burden for creative ministering upon the church that is more than something in the imagination of the minister.

Having declared the need for creative ministering in the seventies this essay seeks to point to some efforts in this direction along with some possibilities in this regard before concluding with a statement of a philosophy regarding creative ministries for this decade. In teaching at Ashland Theological Seminary the writer has led classes which have searched out descriptive statements on the subject and which have visited various forms of ministering presently in existence which might be called creative ministries.

Space will not allow an extended description of any or even a brief description of many creative ministries visited; however, an introduction to a few may be in order. High on the list of

creative ministries contacted, as far as class interest was concerned, is the Pittsburgh Experiment under the direction of Paul Everett. This ministry, begun under the inspiration of the late Reverend Sam Shoemaker, reaches a broad spectrum of needs, coordinating action and leading the way in interdenominational cooperation. Not a church itself, the Experiment serves as an enabling agency for the institutional church and for less formal agencies to perform a Ch...

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