10 Ways to Be Creative (#1)

April 11th, 2011

You want to be Creative?
You want to be innovative?

Then stop trying to hard so be creative and innovative and serve your Senior Pastor.  That may be the most creative and innovative thing you can do because a lot of people are not doing it.

One of the most important tasks of creative staff (communications, arts, worship design people) is serving the church by serving your senior leader. No amount of creativity, hard work, innovation or great experiences can replace a humble servant who bears the armor for God’s chosen leader.

I am going to come at you a little over the next ten posts so I hope you can take it. If you are an anti-authority person, you probably will not enjoy this series.  But if you believe everything hinges on being willing to submit to authority and serve your leader, you may just learn something.  I would love to have your input as well!

#1 – Put the Leader's Vision over Your Portfolio.
I get quite a few e-mails or questions at conferences that go something like this, “How can I get my Senior Pastor to realize that my art is more important than his vision?" Ok. That is not what people say, but that its what they mean. It comes dressed in clothes like this:

//My Senior Pastor just does not understand our need for a class A designer.//

He probably understands more than you think. What the creative director often does not know is that the senior pastor is juggling five program areas and their "needs".  Decisions are hard, but sometimes they have to be made, and in most contexts it’s the senior leader who has to make them. Don’t add to the stress by needing eveything you do to be original – that is just your selfishness rearing its ugly head.  It may not win you an Addy, but you may just need to use stuff from open.lifechurch.tv or a great website template from Clover.  It will not build your portfolio, but it will be a great experience and may juts take some stress off of your senior pastor.

//My Senior Pastor wants us to “rip off” something he saw on television or the movies for a series. That is so 1998. We need to be original.//

This may seem harsh. But we need to get over ourselves. There is too much at stake for elitist design snobs (and I am sometimes one). Many of you are great at what you do, but so is your senior leader.  Although we often think we have cornered the market on understanding pop culture and design because we subscribe to “How” and wear graphic tees and our senior pastor still wears a Polo and reads The New York Times, he is pretty sharp.

If you don’t think he is, resign today and get another job.  Why would you want to work for someone you think is not sharp?

I cannot tell you how many times Pastor Greg has pushed for a direction in a series that I believed was “out of date” or “poor use of pop culture” to find that he has an innate, Holy Spirit-given ability to know what people are struggling with and how to communicate that.  Ninety percent of the time he lets the creatives be creative, but in that ten percent that he pulls the Pastor Card – guess what – he can, could, and should.  And 100% of the time on those rare occasions, he has been correct.

//I just need my Pastor to be cooler. He is not cool enough and does not understand the new generation.//

I have been on church staffs through about four emerging generations now and each one has thought that they were too cool for church, could not be reached by anyone older than them and that they had cornered the market on cool.  This has led to “church within a church” debacles and to churches with what I call Brand Schizophrenia because the designers are putting portfolio over vision. 

What I have found is that each of these generations wants church to be like them, for them, and about them because we are selfish people. So what we really need rather than a 50 year old man trying to be like us, speak like us and about our needs and wants, is a 50 year old man to act his age and be the dad many of them never had. Most of us have enough cool in our lives – what we really need is someone who cares enough to get in our chili and remind us that it is not about us. Lay off your Senior Pastor about being cool. He probably is not. Most I know are not and when they try to be it’s just embarrassing.  Can I tell you something else? You're not cool either.  Be Jesus to your community, not Bono.

Come back for Part Two tommorrow.

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