Every artist hates getting “creativity block.” But in a big way, asthma our churches can be putting up barriers for creativity without us even knowing it. Take a minute to check out these 2 Creativity Crushers and make sure you’re creating the kind of culture where creative people can thrive…
1. Bad Structure.
I know, malady this one isn’t sexy at all. But it is arguably the most pervasive problem holding the Church back from her potential. The bottom line here is a desire for control. The 2 questions to ask are, “are creative types drawn to our church?” and “do they stay and serve passionately?” If not, you may have a bad structure. Any time we build an organization in order to preserve the former way of doing things, the end is in sight.
So what makes structure “bad?” Primarily it has to do with clogging up the decision making process. How much freedom do our team members have to make decisions without getting blocked in the creative process? A good structure is simple, streamlined, and releases people to express their giftedness. The key here is pre-deciding what the limits are, and making sure the team knows how to work together. Which brings us to #2…
2. Lack of Limits.
Van Gogh had it. DaVinci had it. Heck, even Elon Musk has it in a way.
A canvas. It’s the difference between creativity and chaos. For much of my life I’ve misunderstood this principle. I thought that creativity only happened when restraint was thrown to the wind. As a guy with a bit of a creative streak, I deceived myself into thinking that creative moments had to “happen” to me – that the mysticism of it all was something that I had to just accept. But the longer I’ve worked in this environment, the more I’ve learned that I can only produce creative ideas on a consistent basis when I have the edges of my own canvas defined. As a teaching pastor, that means I have to have a pretty rigid routine on a weekly basis. And believe me, the idea of routine does not come naturally to me. I’m drawn to variety, spontaneity, and surprises. But, as we read in the book, “Managing Your Day to Day,” the most creative people in the world don’t wait for creativity to happen – they make it happen by disciplining themselves and doing the hard work whether they feel like it or not.
The thing is, most people want the organization to succeed. So logical, sensible guardrails are usually received very well, as long as the “why” is understood.
In our setting, we provide a number of tools to help define the canvas. One of those tools is called a “series planner.” This 2-page document identifies our coming teaching series, along with the key info our creative team needs to have if they’re going to stay “inside the lines.” Things like our key Scripture(s) and theme for the day, strategic concerns, our targeted outcomes, and any special features that have been pre-planned. Once those things are in place, we’ve got a foundation to work from. Now the team can add tremendous value by helping us identify ways to really drive home the theme we’re looking to emphasize. Recently one of our planning meetings produced an idea to launch t-shirts to the crowd during a service, have a petting zoo at the church entrance one Sunday, and make our pastors wear 80’s hair band wigs for a promo video. The cool thing is, a lot of ideas get used because the canvas was already set, so there’s a built-in alignment. This makes it motivating for the creatives among us because (hopefully) we are building a track record for using a lot of ideas rather than shutting them down.
How about you? What have you seen that either helps or hinders creativity in your ministry?