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5 Ways to Foster Creativity In Your Church

Creative

Artwork by church creative Kyle Reed.

I get the feeling that churches like left-brained people more. I don’t think it’s intentional, but we tend to gravitate toward people who have teaching and organizational gifts rather than creative gifts. Organizers help us structure the church for numerical growth in logical ways and typically like rules and traditions a little more than the left-brained crowd, so they’re less scary and less threatening to our comfort zones.

Personally, I think the church is missing out on something rather valuable and precious when we pass over creative-types. The gospel is a narrative, a story told through different means at different times. Abraham saw it in the stars and David portrayed it with a home for the ark. The apostles saw the gospel in flesh before them as Jesus. Michelangelo painted it on the ceiling of a church and C. S. Lewis allegorized it with a lion, a witch, and a wardrobe.

God is quite creative in His telling of His own story, and He certainly calls us to reflect His creativity as well. I love a good, well-organized sermon as much as anyone, but we need to foster creativity and celebrate the diversity of ways the story can be told if the church will be all that God wants it to be as His chief storytelling agent in the world today.

So how to do you foster creativity in your church?

1. Focus on empowering, not controlling people.

I wrote about the concept of empowering people to do world-changing things recently, and in that article I offered a reminder that people are not a means of getting ministry done. People are the ministry. Helping someone to try out a ministry, or try something new in ministry, is a win when it fits with the overall vision and values of the church.

2. Help people discover their unique SHAPE.

Not everyone is a painter, singer, speaker, or seamstress. Everyone has a unique make-up of spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences. God uses all of these factors in ministry, and when combined, our SHAPE is what makes us unique. The church works best when people are serving according to their God-given SHAPE. At Grace Hills, we do this by trial and error, asking people to “try out” an area of ministry once or twice to see if it’s a fit. We also plan on conducting personal SHAPE interviews once we have our Ministry Matters class up and going.

3. Celebrate great story-telling.

When someone creatively tells a story well, celebrate it. Congratulate and thank them and highlight their work so that the church understands how much we value the labor of love that produces creative things.

4. Provide resources for creative story-tellers.

When we moved to northwest Arkansas to plant Grace Hills, one of my earliest purchases was a Canon XA10 HD camcorder so that we could stream video online. Just yesterday I received a text from someone on our creative team asking if we could sell the Canon and use the money to buy a less expensive camera that would be better for the job. What? Better than what I picked out? My answer was yes, whatever it takes to empower our creative team with the best tools we can afford… within reason. We also hope to utilize some extra office space for a Mac equipped with professional video-editing tools.

5. Allow creatives to reach other creatives.

The funny thing about musicians and artists is that they tend to find each other. I wouldn’t know where to find a great guitarist, but God led me to Neil Greenhaw who has drawn other creative individuals to work in proximity to him. He loves them and empowers them, which excites me.

Thousands of years ago, artificers and craftsmen were recruited for the building of the tabernacle. Later they built a whole temple. Today they’re building churches – not just the brick and mortar buildings, but the people who make up the body of Christ.

Get creative for the gospel’s sake.

3 Ministries of Every Church Staff Member

Some churches view the staff as hired workers. If that is the case in your church, respect your leaders and don’t blame any rebellious attitudes on what I am about to say about this. Other churches view the staff as interdependent creative thinkers and leaders. In the first case, the usual mentality is “anything you aren’t doing for the church should be done ‘off the clock’.” In the second case, the mentality is “everything you do as ministry and mission benefits us as long as your priorities are in order.”

When I was at Saddleback, I learned some pretty great lessons about systems, structures, and staff leadership. In spite of our blessed chaos and the “fast, fluid, and flexible” environment of the southern California megachurch, I learned a ton about leadership and how a church staff can function in a healthy way.

One of the principles Pastor Rick often shared was that every church staff member is expected to fulfill three different ministries, on or off “the clock.”

1. Every church staff member has a ministry to the lost. And our ministry to the lost trumps our other responsibilities every time. We advocate for the lost, relate to the lost, and give our time and energy to bringing lost people to Jesus, first and foremost.


By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?


2. Every church staff member has a ministry to the church. It is this second priority that is made first in many churches, probably to the detriment of the creative potential of the staff collectively. We wind up falling into the trap of just doing the work we’re expected to do with little time for independent, creative thinking. Apple, Google, and thousands of other tech startups could teach us some important lessons here about freeing people up to think beyond what currently exists. Gmail, for example, was a product born out of the personal development time granted to some employees who were free to play around on the clock. Today, it’s a core Google component. If we aren’t thinking about the lost and how to creatively reach them as much as we think about getting our jobs done, we’re toast.

3. Every church staff member has a ministry to his or her peers. That is, we have a responsibility to pour into and invest in our parallels. As Pastor Rick put it, Saddleback’s receptionists were to minister to other church receptionists, children’s ministry leaders to other children’s ministry leaders, etc. This is the trickiest of all for established churches who see “outside” ministry interests as competing with the productivity of their own staff. But it boils down to a matter of stewardship. If my church is blessed with knowledge or resources, it’s up to our staff to share that blessing with others. Ministering to our peers keeps us in the company of encouragers, prevents isolation and burnout, keeps me up-to-date and sharp on leadership innovations, and is ultimately good for the kingdom (and heaven knows how we need more kingdom-minded churches!).

It’s a tough shift. If you lead a church to be clock-punching and productivity-obsessed, you’ll get a lot done and perhaps build a larger, more effective church. But if you care about developing people into more influential leaders and growing the kingdom as much as you care about growing your institutional machinery, you’ll at least open yourself to the possibility of releasing your staff to think more about the lost than your church and also spend time investing in their peers.

Graphic background by Zach Fonville.

Good Idea. Now What? Charles Lee Helps Answer This Question

Our Creator designed us to be creative. And out of our inborn creativity come forth plenty of good ideas, but an idea is only as valuable as its successful implementation. In other words, brainstorming is good, but completing ideas is even better. Charles Lee, the founder of the Ideation Consultancy and many other brilliant ideas, helps leaders cross the finish line with well-developed good ideas.

Good Idea. Now What? By Charles LeeIn his new book, Good Idea. Now What?, Charles presents a guidebook that is very thorough, but also very readable. It’s a book for leaders, for thinkers, and for creators. It’s written in such a way that the reader can join in at any point, like a reference book. But it’s also a journey that can be followed on a pathway to creative growth. Here’s what Charles has to say about the book…

Going from inspiration to execution is hard work. Many steps stand between a good idea and the hit product, profitable company, or social change you envision. Your initial “aha!” moment provides the key to begin this process, but it’s the way you make your dream happen that truly defines your success.

Good Idea. Now What? gives you the tools you need to make your inspiration a reality. This accessible go-to guide features practical advice from leading idea-makers that will help you get your vision off the ground.

Personally, I’d recommend getting copies for your church staff, your creative arts team, and if you’re in business, for your leaders. Charles has had some pretty great ideas himself. He’s the creator of grassroots efforts including JustOnethe Idea CampIdeation Conference, and the Freeze Project as well as the co-founder of JustOne. Charles regularly speaks around the country on topics such as creative process, idea-making, innovation, branding, new media, and compassionate justice. And now, you can have his wisdom in print to refer back to when you need an expert’s insight.

Get Your Copy

Visual Inspiration and Great Links for Creative Leaders

Being creative is a reflection upon our Creator. To be more creative, observe beautiful things made by creative people. Every day, I read posts from around the web that showcase some amazing creative talent. Each is a link, so click the picture for more. Enjoy…

25 Awesome Business Cards

25 Awesome Business Cards


Interactive: The New Wave of Infographics

Interactive: The New Wave of Infographics


The Top 25 WordPress Themes of 2011

The Top 25 WordPress Themes of 2011


Grace Hills Church T-Shirts

Grace Hills Church T-Shirts


The 10 Best Flickr Groups for Texture Inspiration

The 10 Best Flickr Groups for Texture Inspiration


30 Fresh & Creative Custom Business Card Design Inspirations

30 Fresh & Creative Custom Business Card Design Inspirations


Showcase of Logo Designs With Detailed Graphics

Showcase of Logo Designs With Detailed Graphics


20 Fabulous New Websites For Your Design Inspiration

20 Fabulous New Websites For Your Design Inspiration


30 Awesome Pictures of Eagles

30 Awesome Pictures of Eagles


20+ Incredible Multi Exposure Photographs

20+ Incredible Multi Exposure Photographs


15 Unbelievable Solar System Pictures

15 Unbelievable Solar System Pictures


50+ Amazing & Beautiful Photos from Tokyo, Japan

50+ Amazing & Beautiful Photos from Tokyo, Japan

Phil Cooke On the Biggest Mistakes Christians Make in the Media

This is an article that Pastors and anyone in the field of Church Communications needs to read and bookmark for later research. It’s the short version of a talk that Phil gave at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. Phil was instrumental in sparking a huge interest in me in the realm of media and communications when I met him at a conference at Prestonwood Church in Plano a few years ago.

Here are Phil’s main points, but you need to click through and read his comments…

[Read more…]