Ken Wytsma is a leader, innovator, and social entrepreneur respected for his insight and collaborative spirit. He is the president of Kilns College, where he teaches courses on philosophy and justice, and is the planter and lead pastor at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon. Also, we’re proud to say, he’s one of The SOLD Project’s board members.
We at SOLD have enjoyed all of his books, and we’re super excited for his new one. We’d heard that in the book, Create vs. Copy, Ken offers perceptive and practical guidance for how to access and encourage our human potential for creativity. We love this topic. Who couldn’t use some help accessing their inner muse? Plus, we know Ken’s a trustworthy guide.
Thus, we were ecstatic when Ken agreed to give us a sneak peak through a short interview.
SOLD: What initially inspired you to write this book?
Ken: The inspiration for Create vs. Copy came from two places. First, I was beginning to sense that everywhere I go and no matter who I meet all of us seem to be carrying around a deep, latent anxiety. What I mean by this is that because of the rate of change in society, non-profit workers have to keep figuring out new ways to find funding, church culture is changing rapidly, career jobs seem to last five years rather than thirty-five, and that all of us are just trying to keep up. I don’t remember feeling like the whole world was anxious the way it is now. It feels like a modern dilemma brought on by mass communication and globalization. Second, I began to ponder what a theology of creativity looked like. I like to think of things theologically—like justice—and found myself intrigued by the idea of human creativity. The more I sat with both of these realities, the more I realized that there’s a significant connection. I believe that human creativity is a God-given mechanism for adapting to change and finding ways to flourish.
SOLD: Why is this story you want to tell?
Ken: At my core I’m a pastor. I have a passion for helping people learn how to draw closer to God and find joy in life. As it turns out, imagination plays a significant part in our pursuit of God. This short and practical book on creativity is my shot at trying to give a practical application for how people can grow their capacity for creativity, imagination, and innovation in their life and leadership.
SOLD: What do you think is the specific need that this book addresses?
Ken: I’ve read a lot of books on creativity and quite a few on business and innovation, but I haven’t found many that try to bridge between the theological side—that creativity is a human trait—to the practical side—that creativity speaks to all of life and leadership. As a result, most people don’t pick up books on creativity or go too deep because it feels like an irrelevant or narrow topic. This book was designed to be relevant for everyone.
SOLD: What was most challenging about writing a book on creativity?
Ken: I think the greatest challenge in writing this book was trying to keep it short and practical. Like all subjects, you could write a whole shelf worth of books before you’ve exhausted the topic, but I wanted this book to be accessible and approachable. It was also hard to find a way to model creativity while writing a book, which is why I’m indebted to my friend Paul Crouse who created many custom illustrations for the project.
SOLD: What are you seeing (or hoping to see) creative teams get out of it?
Ken: Creativity is a capacity that can be grown much like a muscle. Therefore, it’s something that needs to be intentionally built into our routines both at home and at work. The value of teams going through the book together is that it increases the chances for unique and creative rhythms to take hold that can change the culture of an organization for good.
SOLD: How does this book relate to your vocation as a minister and as somebody pursuing justice?
Ken: One of the things I talk about extensively in the book is the connection between creativity and our ability to play a part in the reconciliation of all things. I’ve begun to find that creativity is born of faith while fear cancels it out and that the fruit of creativity makes space for life to flourish. As a result, the more practical creativity we have in our churches or nonprofits, the greater our ability to breathe life into this world.
SOLD: Does cross-cultural understanding help the creative process?
Ken: One of the disciplines of creativity is to get outside of one’s own context or box (what’s discussed in the book as “social imagination”) so that you have more at your disposal for using and coming up with innovative and redemptive solutions. I think one of the beauties of globalization is that we benefit from multiple perspectives and can learn to empathize with lots of people from different cultures. Creativity can be fed by good information and by having a robust understanding of the context in which we’re working.
SOLD: What’s an interesting fact some people might not know about you?
Ken: I grew up in Europe from age 3 to age 6. My favorite city in the world is Florence, and though I don’t do it much anymore, I was an avid skier growing up.
-The SOLD Project
Many thanks to Ken Wytsma for sharing his book and insights with us! Purchase Wytsma’s book here at Amazon.com.