Gracenomics & Creativity in Youth Ministry

One of the last books I read this year was Gracenomics from Mike Foster. In a chapter about putting grace into practice at work, he describes a scenario:

“The boss pretends the company never fails. Never has, never will.

The employees know this is a bunch of bull. Always has been, always will be.

But because they know their boss is fixated with erasing all evidence of the company’s failures, the employees trade in the goal of advancing the company for the boss’ real goal: covering up mistakes – along with anything that might’ve been learned from them.

Creativity is choked out.

Innovators are handcuffed.

Dreams die.”

Grace allows creativity and dreams to flourish because grace makes room for failure. I know that he was talking about the workplace with this picture, but I can’t help but forward this dynamic into the church (maybe because that’s my workplace). In a group of people who are admittedly depending on God’s grace, what if we’re so intent on covering up mistakes (or maybe we just ignore them and hope they’ll go away) that we don’t really let anyone learn and grow from them, that we don’t learn to give grace ourselves?

I believe the result is the same: creativity is choked out, innovators are handcuffed, and dreams die. Only, in the church, instead of continuing to punch the clock and collect a check, a lot of creativity will look elsewhere for an outlet and the less patient of the innovators will walk away long before the dreams die.

Through youth ministry, I have been given the chance to shape both the church that is now and the church that will be. I want to make sure I’m giving students and other leaders the freedom to fail. I’m not sure I’ve always done that well, and I can’t help but wonder what dreams and creative ideas have been stifled by my bottling up of the grace that’s been given to me…

What were the latest mistakes you or your church has addressed with grace? What did you learn?

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