A way of life for a kidmin
If you have read any of my articles in KidzMatter Magazine or have read any of my books or have ever heard me speak, the chances are pretty high that you’ve heard me say at least one or all of these sayings. “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time,” or “Same actions bring same results.” Or maybe you’ve heard me say “Don’t make the same mistake twice; there are lots of different ones that you can make each time.” Sound familiar? The common denominator to walking these sayings out is to be creative. It’s a way of life that every children’s pastor can and must practice to build an effective ministry to children and their families. Let me share with you 10 habits I try to walk out on a consistent basis in order to be creative.
- Pray and ask God to help you be creative! You have to realize we were created in the image of the Creator. Genesis 1:26-28 tells us, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” I start every day as well as every creative meeting or brainstorming session with prayer to ask the Creator to stir up His creative spirit and power within me. It takes creativity to manage, rule and be fruitful. God has promised us that He would meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19). Expect Him to show up.
- Study creative people. I like to read about creative people: Walt Disney, Dave Thomas, Sam Walton, Donald Trump, and Seth Godin, just to name a few. Any time I can find a successful innovator I find a creative person. I love to try to get inside their head and learn how they think and look at life. Reading their books, their blogs and/or the stuff others write about them help me unlock secrets I can adapt in my own life. If you can add one habit from a book, that’s a benefit. I try to read every autobiography I can get my hands on.
- Hang out with creative people. Every chance I get to choose who I spend time with, I choose creative folks. I always have questions ready, so I can learn what I want to learn at that time. I’m so thankful for my friends.
When you go to a conference don’t hang out with just your friends, though; make new ones. I call this the conference within a conference. I seek out speakers, workshop presenters and attendees I want to learn from and buy them coffee or a meal. Never miss an opportunity to learn, ask a question, or run something you are thinking about by someone you admire!
- Learn from people of multiple age groups. I hang out with a lot of people from different age demographics. When I think about the people who I like to learn from and who are speaking into the creativity of our next generation department, I’m being influenced by folks from 18 to 50. Most of the people that I spend time with are younger than me, so I deliberately get older folks’ opinions as well as listen to parents of different age groups. Every group and different background brings a unique viewpoint.
- Learn from different camps and types of ministers. I believe the body of Christ has lots of camps and circles. The more of these camps and circles you can penetrate, the greater influence and blessing it will bring to you. I am blessed that over the years I have been able to speak to almost every different denomination and group as well as attend almost every major conference the different organizations put on. I have learned something from all of them. Sometimes I come home having learned what not to do, but to me that’s just as valuable!
Here lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with youth and student pastors. Rather than spend my life complaining about youth ministry, I’ve been trying to create a different model I haven’t seen before. I wanted to run my idea by a “dyed in the wool” 100 percent bonifide student pastor. So, I made a lunch date with Michael Bayne. He’s a young leader who’s at a great church in Clarksville, TN and I’ve been watching and learning from his blogs. I wanted to be able to tell him about the methods and model of student ministries I’ve developed and get a youth guy’s perspective. It was a very helpful lunch and I hope the start of a new friendship.
- Go to creative places. I love Disney … every Disney park. I try to go to every theme park I can go to, because it always jumpstarts my creativity. So do themed restaurants, as well as creative church environments. I am so thankful for cell phones, because now it’s easy to keep a camera with you 24/7 to take pictures of every creative thing you see that you might be able to use or that just strikes your fancy. I have pictures of carpet from movie theaters and hotels, as well as wall décor from stores at the mall. Whenever I see something cool, I snap a picture; then, when I need to be creative I go through my picture albums of ideas.
- Start a creative file. Years ago I realized you did not have to have a million dollar advertising budget to be creative. I started collecting happy meal boxes and bags, brochures from the Disney Store and paying attention to font choices and colors, as well as other design concepts I could learn from people who did have a million dollar advertising budget. If a secular business mass marketed to the same age group or demographic as my church, I tried to learn from them. When I needed an idea I went through the file. Every church I go to I pick up every form, brochure, offering envelope that I can get my hands on. Then, when I get home, I file the good ones and trash the bad ones.
- Brainstorm with others. I love to brainstorm for creativity. I don’t brainstorm to make decisions, but I do let creative people give their two-cents worth. The decision is still yours, but bounce it off a few people who will give you an “umbrella of mercy.” I like to call individuals, bounce an idea off them, and then listen. How is this different from #4? In number 4, I want their ideas. Now, I want their reaction. And by reaction I do mean their honest opinion and thinking on the idea. I’m thankful for the people who take my call and let me bounce and go. My friends know when I get more time (like when I’m in my car) that I will call them back and find out what they’re up to, but not now. When I brainstorm, no idea is too crazy. Be open to another way of doing things. Remember, same action brings same results. Be on the lookout for different ways to do things and for new ideas. (At least new to you!)
- Make time to think. I try to spend time alone each week to think. I try to come up with two new thoughts per week. Schedule this alone time during a meal or in a quiet place. I love to sit and think on my screened porch. Find a time and place when you can simply think … no distractions, no agenda.
- Follow the peace of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Sprit is your helper; listen to Him and follow His peace. Never override a warning or check in your Spirit. He will guide you in all things, even in being creative.