The gospel never changes, but the means of communicating it are always changing.
WELCOME TO PASTORPEDIA
A Video Resource of CE National, a church effectiveness ministry
In this issue we talk about how to embrace innovation, creativity and change for the health of your ministry.
Pastors Knute Larson, Jim Brown, and Jeff Bogue, talk about creativity in the churchVisit https://www.cenational.org/article/creativity-in-the-church-pastorpedia to read and download a PDF of the text.
Posted by CE National on Wednesday, April 3, 2019
“Hmmm, why didn’t I think of that?”
• Because you had a bunch of other things on your mind.
• Because you were working hard on next Sunday’s sermon, starting sometime Sunday evening or Monday morning.
• Because you are really good at loving people, showing care and guiding the direction of the church, but are not especially creative. (And there is nothing wrong with that.)
• Because you thought of it one night in bed but forgot to write it down on your notepad near your bed.
• Because you didn’t read all the ideas the three of us are about to give.
No, forget that last one. But we do hope that some of these suggestions will help create new procedures for you.
Clearly our main calling is not to be creative. But even more clearly we are competing to connect with minds that are full of screens, ideas, programs, worries, sports and miscellaneous junk. It can be an uphill battle in any culture, but especially one that is as selfish as ours in orientation.
So, why not consider the following?
Grateful for the input of others in our ministries,
Knute, with Jeff and Jim
Read the conversation here or download the PDF »
What do you do if you, as the leader, know you are not creative and can’t think of new things to try at the church or new ways to do what you are doing?
• I would build a team, looking to creative people of different ages and at different stages of life, and ask them for ideas. Ask them to brainstorm how to achieve these goals together.
• The internet is our friend. We can look at churches all over the world. We can Google ideas, and we can look at marketplace solutions.
• Don’t be afraid to listen to podcasts, look at websites and watch videos. Just be sure you can contextualize your ideas to your environment.
• I really encourage you to look at model churches, to see what they are doing, ask questions and get ideas from them. Even little ideas are very energizing.
• You first acknowledge it and surround yourself with people who are creative.
• I personally pray for creativity and ask God to do for me what I can never do on my own.
• Spend time in creative environments so that your mind can saturate and soak it in. I am always taking notes and writing ideas down as I see them and hear them. Disney World and art centers are great places to stir the juices.
• There are two kinds of people when it comes to creativity: springs and reservoirs. Springs create ideas and reservoirs collect them. As you hire, make sure you have a good balance between the two.
• Do not punt. Do not despair. You have other assets that are just as strong in God’s economy. Gather around you three or four very creative people in your church or friendship circles. You probably know who they are already.
Ask them for a two-hour planning session once a month and be ready with sermon topics and church strategy questions. You will benefit, but so will they when they see their contributions used.
• Read what other churches are doing. There are so many good books written by leaders of churches, but there are also magazines like Outreach that have so many ideas from churches of various stripes. And there are podcasts galore that give ideas.
• This is another good reason to form a friendship circle with two or three other pastors where you connect at least monthly by teleconference, exchanging personal needs and support but also asking questions that bring out creativity from them.
The gospel is concrete. What kinds of things need to be changing at church?
• Everything else. Methods are methods and they almost always have a shelf life.
• We need to be looking at our community and always asking the question: How are we able to communicate effectively to our community? Then, whatever methods need to change to do that, we need to change.
• Most importantly, the language we use to make Jesus make sense will forever be changing.
• Everything else is up for grabs when it comes to change. You should always be asking: Is it effective? Are lives being changed? Is this the best way to get the message across?
• I will also state it this way: If Ryder trucks gathered all our stuff and moved our church on a Monday and no one in the community missed us until Sunday, then we need to change something.
• We live in a pay-on-demand world and tech world so we must constantly be looking at the ways we do church online.
• Change is the new normal (but don’t expect everyone to believe that or like it).
• To restate the conviction in the question: We need not to try to improve on what has been revealed by God in the Scriptures. Stay hitched to them in a good way. The work is in being creative in the ways we present and apply the Word, not to make it so we like all the content.
• The “packaging” of the Word, application and getting people interested in it in the first place—all that must change with the times. The changing culture is not evil per say, though often it is; but we must surround or present the message in ways relevant to the people now. The prophets and the Savior did so.
• Remember that God did not need to think of pastors and teachers, or invent them, if he only wanted the Scriptures to be read to people. Scribes would have been sufficient. But he clearly created the position because he wants us to teach his Word in ways that cause people of this culture to pay attention. Thus the need for clarity and creativity in methods and means of presenting the Word and doing church.
• If all that is true, we need to constantly be helping our people to accept change. Mission, mission, mission—that is what they need to hear about. Not change to keep up with another church or fad, but mission, mission, mission.
• The warning must be included—some leaders race to change, attract creativity and lose some of their main member-sponsors because they go so quickly. “Incremental” is a good word. Slowly, with reason and mission, mission, mission.
• Churches are notorious for putting a ministry in place on the calendar and then checking on it in 10 years, or just before it needs CPR. Regular reviews help us decide what to change.
• The teaching of youth and children certainly needs to have changes to hold attention and make application. This is hard work.
• This may sound trite or pedantic, but even the way we do announcements can vary and be done creatively. And certainly the type of worship music, or the order of service, or the assessments of what song to use to open the service, whether to have a pastoral prayer, the call to worship, the pictures or information on the screen, the greetings to people—all these can get old and stagnant.
How can a creative team help with sermons, growth campaigns or giving campaigns? How can knowing what others are doing help?
• The creative team is excellent with sermons. I bounce my sermons off my creative team every week.
• They give me different insights and perspectives and often help me to think about how other groups of people would process what I’m about ready to say. They can help you think up illustrations, and may be more familiar with what’s moving around the internet at this particular time. They can help contemporize how you communicate by using something as simple as different backgrounds or colors when doing your PowerPoint presentations.
• When it comes to growth or ministry campaigns and giving campaigns, they are incredibly valuable. Creative people understand creative people better than a noncreative person will, so sometimes they can help do the research on the internet, looking at other churches, and they’ll have a better perspective about what they think might work or not work.
• The key is to give them a defined goal you are working toward. You begin with the end in mind. If you do not set your outcome in stone, then the methods will overtake the outcome. If you set your outcome in stone, the methods will enhance and help with the outcome.
• I heard this statement one time from a church leader: “You must have the right people around the table when making decisions.” Look at the group and ask this question, “Do they have insight, experience, wisdom and expertise in this discussion topic?”
• Sit with your staff or elders and discuss potential sermon series, and have a brainstorming time at some point to talk about the messages.
• I regularly sit with our worship pastor to discuss the message so that the tone and mood of the service goes well with the message.
• There are multiple resources available online to assist in sermon and growth campaigns—use whatever is needed.
• I regularly listen to podcasts and watch videos of other leaders to learn from them.
• Sometimes four or five heads are better than one; something about, “a multitude of counselors.” I am often amazed at how many pastors are loners even in the sense that they do not take time to see what other churches are doing or to get input from friends in the pastorate, let alone a creative team at their own church.
• Many pastors I coach have said that no one ever gave them candid input on their sermons other than the typical, “That was good, Pastor” (sometimes from a sleeper). A creative team or friends can change that if we choose. At the least, three or four strong staff people or lead volunteers who have your best interest at heart can help in this way: both before the sermon to give ideas on what should be covered or what questions should be answered, and after the sermon to see what hit home.
• Whether you call it a creative team, a strong guidance team, a committee to lead a growth campaign or a giving campaign, it is absolutely essential. These people become the heart of the campaign and the best givers and idea people.
People who are loner pastors omit a strong source of strength.
• And learning what others are doing by way of blogs, books and friendship interchange—this seems most essential.
How can you use creative people in the church?
• Let them create, write music, do art, write blogs or social media posts, etc.
• Everywhere, from graphic design, painting, decorating, prop-building, worship-planning, outreach, evangelism and sermon prep.
• I am always looking for creative people and am praying every day on my own for creativity.
• In the ways listed above, on teams.
• Ask your creative team.
• To do announcements, give an illustration for the sermon, do a 90-second drama sketch—even though that’s not in vogue now—plan a brochure, give feedback after a sermon, help you develop publicity for your Sunday or home ABFs, and more.
Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years.
Vol. 6, Issue 3 | March 2019
Pastorpedia is a resource produced by CE National, a church effectiveness ministry. Here’s how CE National helps to equip pastors and church leaders. Please contact us at [email protected] or 574.267.6622 if we may be of any help to you or your ministry.