Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

How to Be Seen as Creative

So you hear staff talking about a meeting to brainstorm the new sermon series. You think to yourself, ?That sounds kind of exciting.? But you wait for the email invitation and it never comes. ?I’m the tech leader. Why didn’t they invite me? I need to be in on the ground floor so I can prepare.?

For some of us, this scenario might hit too close to home for comfort. Do other staff see you as non-creative? Are you giving off vibes you don’t want to? The bigger question is, ?Are tech people creative?? I’m here to say absolutely, positively, yes.

Creativity comes in many forms:

  • Abstract?where a splash of paint on paper can be a masterpiece to some, but a mistake or child’s work to others
  • Creativity with boundaries?where boundaries or perimeters are put around the creativity and you?re allowed to create within it whatever you like

The second one is where tech people can typically shine. It reminds me of a great scene from the movie Apollo 13. It?s the scene where a group of NASA engineers needed to create a filter with a bunch of parts that were inside the spacecraft. One of the engineers holds up a filter and says, ?We need to create this filter out of all this (showing random parts across a table)?. This is similar to what tech people at churches do on a weekly basis. We are asked to create incredible environments using tools and resources we have?sometimes archaic tools or tools meant for another purpose.

Why we are often looked at as uncreative or without imagination has to do with how we think and how we communicate to others around us. When presented with an idea, we tend to go through all the reasons why it won’t work before we can think about if it even could work. And when pushed in a corner (we need a decision now) we tend to lead with ?no?. We can also tend to hold in what we are thinking internally while others ask, ?Does anyone have a problem with it?? And we are too busy processing it, so they take that as agreement and move on. Then it gets messy as we stop the production later on down the road and are often looked at as the dream killer. Learning to communicate is part of the challenge, but learning to communicate when needed is a bigger challenge.[quote]Learning to communicate is part of the challenge, but learning to communicate when needed is a bigger challenge.[/quote]

So I want to give you three tips on how to appear creative to a creative from my own personal experience. (Because we already know that you are creative.)

1. Don’t Kill Brainstorming.

When we say no in brainstorming, it can stop ideas from flowing. Imagine if you threw out an idea and someone immediately said, ?That can’t work.? Wouldn?t that stop or slow you from continuing to think about that idea? Sometimes the best ideas come from other ideas or thoughts that spark them. Try to make it clear and ask, ?Is this a brainstorm meeting?? or ?Are we brainstorming now?? Maybe even ask if the ideas can be narrowed down to 2 options.[quote]When we say no in brainstorming, it can stop ideas from flowing.[/quote]

2. Let Others Know How You Process.

Explain to your peers and leadership that you like to create when you have all of the parameters first. So your church wants to have a flying trapeze during services. ?Okay what?s my budget? Does it have to be full size? Would it work on video instead? How much time do I have to pull this together? Are there safety concerns?? Once we get all the boundaries we can create the options and present them to leadership. But we have to remind others multiple times. It can?t be a one-and-done thing. Everyone is busy, and they often don?t remember how everyone else processes and works. It?s your job to remind them.

3. Speak Up, Especially When Given the Opportunity.

I know the second point talked about how we need all of the boundaries first before we can process and answer. So what do we do when the brainstorm meeting turns into a ?we need your opinion?? If we stay silent, that usually means we agree with the decision. Instead, you can say, ?I need time to process and research the possibilities and get back to you.? What I?ve found is that if I do what I say and get back to them quickly with options or real potential issues, it often changes the decision or helps them understand the real resources it would take to make it happen.

Our minds are very creative but often misunderstood because of how we communicate and process ideas back to those who work with us. I?ve found that everything takes work to be better at it and so does helping others understand more about us.

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