How do you finish the following sentence, “I am ___________ creative!” Did you answer with an enthusiastic ‘ALWAYS’ or an appalled ‘NEVER’? In my experience, I have found that most people put themselves in one camp or the other when it comes to creativity. I have also found that most people who consider themselves to be “left-brained” also consider themselves the non-creative type and those crazy right-brained people got all the creative talents graciously bestowed upon them. (To be fair, I am actually center-brained meaning I scored equally left and right-brained). Left-brainers, I understand your need for logic and order; Right-brainers I totally get your flare for coloring and intuition!
I want to challenge the notion that if you are left-brained you are inherently non-creative. If you’re in children’s ministry you HAVE to have some creativity in your bones! How else do you answer a question like, “What did it smell like inside the whale on Jonah’s third day?” and “Was Noah’s wife named Joan? (Of Ark) One thing we know for sure, creativity comes in all shapes and sizes.
What can you do to induce creativity when you don’t feel you’ve been gifted in the “creativity department”?
- Visit “creative places”. For me, creative places are the indoor trampoline park, Old Navy, the local Y.M.C.A and any local place that your church kids hang out on a regular basis. The indoor trampoline park in town has GREAT ideas for games that can be easily adapted into a church setting. (Hint: they also have very useful wording for warning signs and waivers that can be stolen borrowed for church use). Old Navy has some awesome color schemes that I would never think of putting together! The left brain in me wants to logically match primary colors with their secondary friends but the right brain in me says “MORE COLORS EVERYWHERE!” Old Navy thinks of color schemes that I never would trust myself with. The Y.M.C.A does amazing things when it comes to childcare and convenience. Seriously, those people are geniuses! Talk to them and schedule a tour. I’ve never been to Disneyworld or Disneyland but both of these locales are a huge inspiration to my senior pastor who is majorly right-brained!
- Visit other children’s ministries that you respect (or that serve more children that yours). I’ll be honest and say that when I was newer in the ministry I was totally against going to see other churches, mainly because of pride. I didn’t want to see anyone doing anything better than me. If you feel that way, you need to get over it. There will always be someone doing some element of ministry “better” than you. Take advantage of it!!! Have you ever met a children’s pastor that didn’t love to share ideas? I haven’t! Call them up and ask for a tour. They will most likely be honored you asked and excited to show you what they are doing. You may not be able to use everything but even if you come away with just one idea, you have benefited from the visit (and possibly made a new friend!) Also, it is always good to visit a larger church than your own—this helps you formulate vision for the future—just make sure your envy-meter isn’t charged up on the visit. Larger churches typically have larger budgets, more volunteers, and a wider ministry-reach than you. That isn’t important to the creativity you are trying to glean from them. It is important not to compare yourself or your ministry to theirs. No good comes from this type of comparison!
- READ! (There ya’ go left-brainers!) Read books on creativity. There are a ton of them! I highly recommend Steal Like An Artist; Show Your Work; Creativity Workout and Creativity, Inc. They are all chock-full of ideas and activities that can help get creative juices flowing.
- Constantly ask yourself, “What else could I use this for?”. I know, this sounds like a silly tip. However, if you can get in the habit of asking this question, you’ll be amazed at what your mind will come up with. I recently changed the theme of my entire children’s ministry from a warehouse theme to a city-theme. I was doing personal shopping at Target, just perusing the aisle of shower-curtains and other bathroom paraphernalia (which I didn’t even need) and found a shower curtain with generic city buildings on them. They were $9 apiece. I bought two of them and transformed my children’s ministry stage by hanging up two shower curtains and shining colored lights from behind them! Bonus points for creative budgeting too, right?!
- Force yourself to participate in “typical” creative activities. There are a variety of ways to do this but I will tell you about something that has brought great dividends to me. Check out the “Praying In Color” resource. This is a great way to do creativity with a spiritual purpose! I know right-brainers will enjoy this, but left brainers, you could benefit from this too! Utilize music in different ways than you normally do. Write or even type in different color ink! It seems so small but it makes a big difference.
- Know that being creative isn’t a 24/7 gig. I consider myself to be highly creative. However, there are definitely times that I just don’t “feel it”. Various seasons come and go and creativity flows like that. It isn’t a constant and it is important to recognize when you’re in a down-season and to accept that it is just that: a season.