Creating Church: I’m not creative

photo credit: velkr0 via photopin cc

photo credit: velkr0 via photopin cc

I hear a lot of people say, “I’m not creative.” While there are people for whom creativity comes easily, it’s a myth that some people are creative and others can never be. The only thing that keeps you from being creative is you.

You’re not creative because you’re too hard on yourself. People who “aren’t creative.” say the same things to themselves: “We can’t do that.” “I’m not able to do that.”

I have a friend who’s a college English professor. I was talking to him while I was writing my first book. I was full of self-doubt as to whether I could do it. I remember saying, “I just keep writing. I’m not sure I can do this; I’m not editing it or anything.” He told me, “Good. Editing and Creating come from different parts of your brain. You can’t do both at the same time.”

Start the creative process by getting every idea, no matter how stupid, out and on the table. Don’t edit it. Don’t tell yourself it’s a stupid idea. Don’t say it can’t happen. That comes later.

Bad ideas lead to better ideas. You never know what will spark the right idea. When I’m part of a brainstorming meeting, I go in planning to have the bad ideas. Since bad ideas lead to good ones, I’m providing the basis for the good ones. Should I come up with a good idea, all the better.

You fall in love with an idea too soon. The first idea you have might be a good one, but it might not. Don’t fall in love with it.

In the late summer of 2001, this happened to me.

I was talking with the rest of the people on my team. We came up with an idea. The series was, I have a friend who… The weeks were “worries too much,” “wonders if prayer really works,” and “has doubts about God.” We came up from with an idea for a funny series of videos set in a bathroom. The first episode took a place with a close up of a guy, obviously worried. We close with a shot of an empty toilet paper roll and a shot of his pants around his ankles. Each week something illustrated the week’s message. During a frantic prayer, a janitor walks by the restroom pushing a cart and a roll of toilet paper fell off his cart and rolled into the restroom.

The people who led me at church hated the idea. I didn’t get why and pushed it any way I could.

I don’t know if we could have even made it. What’s really ironic is that if I’d gotten my way, the first funny video would have shown a couple of days before the 9/11 terrorist attack. I fell in love with my first idea.

You don’t edit your ideas. While it’s not a good idea to edit while you’re coming up with ideas, it’s essential to edit later. Brainstorming provides only the raw material for a great service.

Just as a writer doesn’t release an untouched rough draft, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to just grab ideas willy-nilly and use them for a service. Some might be perfect for your service, but a lot of ideas will still need work.

Let’s say that you’re working with a Christmas drama idea. It’s really long and you’d like to surround it with songs.

The problem is that you have five songs that you’d like use but a couple of them don’t make sense before or after the drama.

Instead, someone tweaks the idea to break up the drama and punctuate it with the songs. Each song resets interest and the songs really add to it.

Editing really took an okay idea and turned it into an incredible one.

Creating ideas is really that easy. Quantity breeds quality. Editing sharpens it. We really can compete with the creativity Hollywood makes. I believe that the church can be the source of ideas that are copied by a culture desperate for innovation, instead of the other way around.

Paul

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div. has been a tech volunteer with Lexington City Church (formerly Quest Community Church) in Lexington, KY since 2000 and is the founder of TrinityDigitalMedia.com, llc. He became part of the technology in ministry team when his church’s attendance was around 200 in one Sunday service and has witnessed it’s growth to a peak of 5,200 average weekly attendance in one Saturday service, four Sunday services in one online and two physical campuses. He literally wrote the book on podcasting in churches, twitter in churches, & servant-hearted volunteering, as well as writing various articles for publications like “Church Production” and “Technologies for Worship” magazines. He has thousands of members of his ProPresenter Users' Group on Facebook and thousands of subscribers to his YouTube channel.