Cutting and pasting is the new normal for most leaders in our church settings, and in society in general. We can click and download everything from graphics, videos to the audio track stems for music we use for our church services. Creating content is not the first trigger we pull. With so much pressure on execution and duplication, we have lost the muscle of creation. How do we get that back, or infuse it where it never existed?
I’ve written a couple posts about “Cut and Paste Creativity” as far as ministry leadership is concerned and think an additional post here is in order. How do we become innovative? How do we create rather than copy? What are the elements that build the process of creation into our leadership models? This being the conference season, I think it is important to come up with some questions to critically and spiritually filter the amazing things we see God doing around the world.
The following 6 questions when asked are ways you can begin to shed copy and pasting and start dreaming and creating!
- Look to others who are doing amazing work for inspiration, not emulation. There are no creativity formulas that are scalable to all churches. If you look to see in others what works you may either help or hurt yourself. Helping yourself is when you simply identify the amazing. God does things through people that get our attention and should get our attention. However, the balance is looking at these as simply inspiration for uncovering the uniquely amazing idea God desires for your church ministry. QUESTION: What works?
- Copy the heart, character, and process of others not the outer shell of execution. Ask “who are you?” to find out the values that drive the results that impress you. People create, not systems. So, learning who these people are will allow you to emulate character instead of an end product or system. Something you think was intentional may be “accidental” and things you pass over may be hard-fought plans. Learn the full story of how God uses ordinary people to do amazing things. He wants to use you that way as well. QUESTION: Who are you?
- Instead of asking “how?” and “what?” of those that inspire you, ask them “why?” they did what they did. The history and story of amazing people needs to be told, not just the how-tos. It may shock you to find out that a building design was inherited. Or, it may surprise you how many things cannot be explained at all. To seek a formula will kill creativity. But, to understand the story and process will inform you and free you to create your own amazing ideas. QUESTION: Why did you?
- Dreaming is work. Where do you get inspiration? Is there space to dream for the future and ask “what is possible?” rather than simply looking at others for best practices to obtain desired results. Reverse engineering is a positive when trying to make a smart phone a bit better than the other guy. However, in today’s constant need for change, we need to forecast needs that may not exist yet. Being open to the many possible future scenarios and finding one that fits your identity and opportunity makes more sense than simply downloading what already exists. To leave a legacy requires innovating for the future. QUESTION: What is possible?
- Location is everything. Do you know your zip code or choose to simply import mass-produced ideas of ministry to your people? Indigenous music is important. So is local food. Like the local farmers market, it is better to know who grows your food. Why would we not want to know who makes the content we employ on weekends or teach in our small groups? And, even to apply things we import means we must be a student of our location. If we can’t effectively discern and reach our Acts 1 Jerusalem then we obviously will be ineffective at reaching beyond our culture and location. Our call is to reach the world. QUESTION: Where are we?
- Determine being is as important as doing. Creating is an identity as well as a process. Ultimately the grid of our own community and identity should drive what is done or not done. Just because you can do something and execute it well does not mean you should. Yes, you can start a campus across town. But, is that who you are, or is it simply the newer thing to do? We need progress, but if results arrive apart from our church’s identity have we really won? To innovate appropriately we have to see beyond a system that brings results and instead find a way to gut check who we truly are. QUESTIONS: Who are we?
In conclusion, asking questions is just the beginning. Once you answer these then the blank pages in your team fill with something more useful, valued, and unique. These are not the only questions to ask, but as far as becoming more innovative I believe they are a good start.
Here are the other articles in the “Cut and Paste Creativity” series.
- Cut-and-Paste Creativity: The Death of Art, Music and Connection in Church Worship
- Cut-and-Paste Creativity [Part 2]: Why we choose efficiency over creativity in the local church.
- Censorship versus Editing: 5 Tips to Curb Cut & Paste Creativity