Category Archives: Creativity
At the Converge Transform conference the Creative Arts breakout had about 24 from all over the nation and we began a very good conversation. The conference began on a Monday night and during our first breakout session that evening we came up with 8 subjects that we would like to talk about.
We then voted on what should be priority because we knew that we probably wouldn’t have time to talk about them all.
And that’s why I’m going to post my opinions over the next few weeks. I’ll list the creative subjects in order of voting and then we’ll start the conversation.
That means you need to chime in. The more the merrier. Here we go.
- How do you determine the culture of your community and how do you choose worship content appropriately?
- How do you manage silos (within your church or a specific ministry) and promote a unified vision?
- How do you grow and strengthen the spiritual growth of your creative teams?
- Discussion :: The frustration of being a worship leader in a church that wants to reach the unchurched.
- Holiday Programming :: the good, the bad and the ugly.
- How do you transition the culture of your church?
- Discussion :: Volunteers & Staffing
- Paid or Volunteer Musicians?
On Monday I’ll tackle #1 and go down the list.
Thanks for being part of the creative conversation!
Yep. Just down the street from the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Disneyland.
But we didn’t get to spend the week in fantasyland. We got down to what was real and talked about some great subjects within our creative ministries.
As part of the conference, there was a Creative Arts breakout group. We had the opportunity to sit and talk about things that concern Creatives. It was a great discussion and time to “trade secrets.”
There were about 12 specific subjects that we wanted to talk about. We got to a few of them. I’m going to take the next few weeks and give my opinions on these areas of ministry.
Let’s have a conversation. Comment on what I’ve written and let’s have some healthy dialogue. Let’s learn from each other.
I’ll give you the list on Wednesday.
Get ready. I’m ready to talk? You?
“What?” you ask. “Are you kidding me? I always create. I can’t stop creating.”
Well you must, because when you start to create, you almost always stop listening. And I fully understand how this can happen. I used to do it and I have to talk myself into listening and out of creating when the temptation presents itself.
This is how the scenario goes :: your Pastor starts to describe an exciting sermon series. As he describes his communication strategy you begin to construct in your fertile mind absolutely brilliant artistic ideas. And you can’t wait to to describe your genius.
So you stop listening.
Not a good idea. Your artistic idea might be, but it might be more brilliant if you listened to the entire story.
That’s what I’ve learned both personally and as I’ve observed other Creatives the last 27 years of ministry.
As I mentioned in Monday’s blog :: listen fully. His words. His description. His theology. His goals. His passion. And also what He is asking of you and the creative team.
In other words :: learn to listen louder than you create.
You will actually create more and create much more impactfully.
Reason Two: Creatives are too busy trying to create in the moment and are distracted from actually listening.
Oh, and this happens more times than most are willing to admit. All of us do it even on a daily conversation level. Someone is talking and we begin thinking of what we’re going to say before they are finished.
That isn’t listening at its finest.
But when we put it in the context of creating — and more precise, into the picture of listening to your pastor as he describes his desires for a sermon series. Now, there’s a real problem.
And here’s one of those times when it is not appropriate to create.
It is, however, an excellent time to listen.
- Listen fully to what he is saying
- Listen fully to what he is describing
- Listen fully to what God is telling him
- Listen fully to what he is asking the congregation to learn and take away
- Listen fully to what he is asking you to do
And then … pause … and think about what you’ve learned from listening.
And then, and only then …
Note: Wednesday, I’ll follow this conversation with how to listen louder than you create. See you then.
These are often the reasons I detect when talking with teams about their creative problems. Specifically when it comes to listening. Difficulties with the creative process or systems will often stem from one of these three.
Here are the listening problems:
- They truly don’t understand what the Pastor is saying. This means they hear a different language being spoken.
- They are too busy trying to create in the moment and are distracted from actually listening.
- They don’t care. Sometimes artist’s think they have a better and more culturally relevant way of communicating, so they a low opinion of the pastor’s position on the issue.
I posted an explanation for reason #1 in December 2012 and thought we’d start 2013 with an expanded explanation for the last two.
Reason #2 is very hard for a Creative to resist. Your pastor is describing what he wants to communicate in a worship experience or in a sermon series and your mind begins to race. You begin thinking of all the ideas that you want to talk about — ideas that would make the communication clear and interesting and artistic.
But there’s a problem. You’re thinking. Not listening.
Resist that temptation. Listen completely. Listen louder than you are thinking. Ask questions. Make sure you understand every aspect of what he is saying and the ideas he wants to communicate.
Then … and only then
You begin offering ideas.
Even after ideas begin to be shared, there will be tweaking. There will be clarification. And you will even more and better understand what he was saying after this added and augmented conversation.
Listening begins with … listening. Nothing more. Nothing less.
But to win an Emmy. That little statue means something. It means your the best. It means you’ve done the hard work. It means your innovative, cutting edge. A craftsman. A leader in your trade.
These are the people I’d like to learn from, but I’ll probably never really get to meet these people face to face. And frankly I don’t have to. I don’t have to meet them in order to learn from them. Their craft is what I want to observe.
I want to learn from their expertise and an easy way to do this is to watch the shows that they have made famous. Shows that have made them famous. Shows that are good, well, because the artists hired were the best.
Lighting is a great illustration of this and probably one of the easiest and quickest to learn from and apply. As I stated in Monday’s blog, many, if not all of these shows have budgets and technology far beyond our comprehension. But it doesn’t keep us from learning from them. This shouldn’t keep us from gleaning some idea practical enough for our meager budgets and resources.
Be open. Look at all they do. Break it down into small parts. But also look at the big picture too. You’ll find something worthy of putting into your pocket.
Below are the Emmy nominees and winners in lighting in 2012. I have watched many of these shows on occasion. I picked up lots of ideas. My wife and I watch “So You Think You Can Dance.” I think that this is one of the best shows when it comes to their lighting. And the Emmy folks thought so too. They won an Emmy in 2012. Well deserving!
Check out this list and try to learn from these during their 2013 season:
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Series
WINNER: “So You Think You Can Dance” – FOX
“American Idol” – FOX
“Dancing With The Stars” – ABC
“Saturday Night Live” – NBC
“The Voice” – NBC
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Special
WINNER: “The 54th Annual Grammy Awards” – CBS
“84th Annual Academy Awards” – ABC
“Andrea Bocelli Live In Central Park (Great Performances)” – PBS
“Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show Starring Madonna” – NBC
“Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2011″ – CBS
If you’re like me you probably like viewing other church’s worship services online. So we pick through Vimeo and church websites looking for the latest sermon series video. We get tweets from our friends about the latest “new thing” a progressive church is attempting.
And of course we hear about the early adopters and their ideas on creative blog sites.
We want to see their sets, their lighting schemes, musical selections — you name it. We’re always looking and learning.
And I say, “Good for you. That’s commendable. And frankly–smart.”
Duh. The television. Billions and billions of dollars are spent on shows. There is almost a million channels now available to us. Shows directed by seasoned professionals; people in the business for decades with budgets and technology available to them at levels that we can’t even fathom.
And there’s the other side of the gamut: shows directed by … well … first time directors. Shows put on by college kids and amateurs. And let’s not forget Public TV. Now we’ve run the gamut. Completely.
I don’t watch a great deal of TV but when I do, I’m always finding ideas and seeing things that get me thinking about new ideas.
So what are you watching?
See you Wednesday, I’ll give you some very practical ideas of which shows you could learn from.
I offered a reason on Monday. Here are the other two reasons ::
1. It may Lead to a Great Idea
It could very well lead to a great idea. I’ve seen many times when a good idea, when discussed intelligently and seriously, turn into a great idea. I more times than none, see this played out when two good ideas are combined. The combination is a great idea — a creative idea that is talked about for years.
Was the “bad” and “failed” creative initiative all bad? Were there any elements that could be saved?
Start there. The conversation about the good parts may turn into a complete creative idea that has merit.
This type of discussion is very systematic. It’s not a hap-hazard discussion. It requires discourse that puts every element — small elements — thru a fine-toothed comb. Break the idea apart into it’s individual pieces and put it thru a number of filters.
What good pieces withstand the scrutiny. That might be a great place to begin.
2. The Conversation may Discover the Fatal Flaw
We determined from the onset that the idea was a flawed idea. We labeled it as a failure and yet we are still discussing it.
I’ve suggested that we talk about it because creative conversation is good. And this idea is something to talk about. The other reason is that good ideas found within the failed initiative may lead to a great idea.
Lastly, I submit that the systematic and strict discussion may bring to light the “fatal flaw” of the creative idea.
As you discuss each of the problem areas of the idea, there may be an “ah ha” moment when the flaw that sunk the idea is resolved. Simply put, the idea that caused the initiative to “tank” is fixed. Now wouldn’t that be a revelation?
My last bit of advise. If none of these ideas work, you have sharpened your creative discussion techniques. Hopefully you now understand more logically and creatively how to analyze a creative idea (wether good or bad).
Keep conversing creative!
Maybe. If anything, it’s absolutely a way to turn on the creative juices–juices that might not be flowing.
The idea is simple and maybe a bit controversial. Even if you’ve tried ideas like this in the past, why not discuss a creative idea even if you don’t think it will work?
So what’s the benefit of running with an idea that is considered initially to be bad; an idea that at it’s first look will fail?
Let me offer a few of reasons why this is OK and not a waste of time:
1. Creative Conversation is Good
Creative conversation is good. And yes, I know there’s not an endless amount of time to talk creative, so the time you have needs to be well spent.
But if you find yourself in a situation where the creative juices are moving slowly or not flowing at all, try something different. Even if it means talking thru an idea that on it’s face looks like a failure.
Are there any parts of the idea that have merit? Is there an idea there that can be used to build a successful creative initiative?
If it’s an idea that’s been implemented before and failed, was there adequate conversation about why it failed? If you didn’t allow enough time for solution-based conversation, maybe you should. There may be something in the failed initiative that was well overlooked. Look again.
Talk. Discuss. Beat it up. Turn it over. Upside down. Right-side up. Examine it under a microscope.
Conversation is good. Especially when it’s constructive and practical. And yes, even if it’s about an idea than you don’t think will work.
I’ll discuss the last two reasons on Wednesday ::
2. It may Lead to a Great Idea
3. The Conversation may Discover the Fatal Flaw
We know that just about everyone has some interest in current issues
:: political issues :: issues making headlines in the news :: popular events in entertainment :: social media trends
Folks are talking about these issues at the office, at home. They’re tweeting about it and posting their thoughts on Facebook. So we are happy to talk about them when it helps us move people forward on their journey with Christ (both pre-Jesus and after their relationship begins).
As you know, they’re asking and want to know what Christians think. They want to know how our faith weighs in on these issues. And we need to tell them :: not what we think, but what God says about these issues.
So at Sun Valley :: we are not scared to talk about them.
OK. Here’s the question :: should the church’s Creative Arts Team use current issues to drive a sermon series topic? Absolutely. There’s no doubt that if we think that the issue provides an opportunity to have a conversation about Christ — we are on it. But let me be sure you understand. We are confident that the conversation happens during the sermon series — clearly and often !!
Here’s another question on the same subject :: should the church use current issues to market a sermon series topic? And the answer again is “yes.” We tease this week a new series beginning in a couple of weeks where we are using the current issue of the presidential election. Everyone is talking about it.
The sermon series brand has a political signage look and feel. The teaser mimics a negative political television ad. The title :: In God We Trust.
Next week I’ll post the brand and the video teaser / bumper.
We will be interested to see how this marketing twist works. There is no doubt that the current issue that we are using to piggyback is hot — very hot. I will also reveal next week the topics that will be taught on by our lead pastor. Again, topics everyone needs to hear.
It is our opinion that the combination of the hot issue and the critical topics will be successful. I’ll let you know.