Five Tips To Instantly Improve Creative Output


Creativity is an elusive thing. For most people, it doesn’t just happen. Although, I am a firm believer that every one of us has enormous creative potential (check out my post on “Kidminnovation”), there are definitely times when creativity just doesn’t seem to flow.

If you find yourself struggling in your creative realm, try these tips:

1) Start “scratching”

Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit, talks about the act of scratching. She writes, “You know how you scratch away at a lottery ticket to see if you’ve won? That’s what I’m doing when I begin a piece. I’m digging through everything to find something. It’s like clawing at a side of a mountain to get a toehold, a grip, some sort of traction to keep moving upward and onward.” Scratching can be as simple as just typing/writing whatever comes to your mind, or maybe you just turn on your favorite jam and let your mind start to wander. Whatever it takes to get your creativity flowing.

2) Unplug

So many people try to sit down and create, then are drawn away by email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Creative minds are inherently easily distracted, so is it any wonder you can’t get any creative output done when you have all these things becking for your attention. I know it goes against our society’s value system, but seriously – you won’t die if you totally unplug from the internet for a couple of hours. Let your spouse or boss know that you are turning your phone off for two hours. You will be surprised just how much you will get done.

3) Turn off your “internal editor”

Writers are the worst at this. We tend to be rocking along, then we start to overthink what we are writing. Suddenly, we backspace over and over and delete great content. Then, we can’t seem to continue because we can’t decide whether we should have actually deleted that content or not. TURN OFF your internal editor and just CREATE. There will be plenty of time to edit later. For now, let your creativity fly. Create now, edit later.

4) Picture your audience

This goes beyond just deciding who your audience is in general (“I am writing this lesson for a group of 5th and 6th graders). Instead, picture in your mind a face of THE 6th grader you are writing this for. What problems are they struggling with? What is their family life? What are their dreams? As you write and create, make sure everything you write and create will minister directly to that person in your mind.

5) Keep the rhythm

So many creatives think that if they will just sit down for six to eight hours with no distractions, then they can produce some of their best work. Not true. Our bodies follow what are known as ultradian rhythms – ninety-minute periods at the end of which we reach the limits of our capacity to work at the highest level. There’s no amount of coffee, Red Bull, or “5 Hour Energy” that will overcome it.

Your best bet is to take a 10-20 minute break after every 90 minutes of Creative Output. Take a walk, go talk to a friend down the hall, practice shooting paper wads into the trash can – WHATEVER! Do anything EXCEPT the creative project you were working on. I know, it goes against your belief that “if only I keep on hammering away at it, I will finish the project!” In truth, you may finish the project, but it will be sub par work compared to what it could be if you took a break.

So, there you have it. Five quick tips to instantly improve your creative output. Which one(s) do you think you can put to use this week? Leave a comment and share with us any of your own creative output boosters!

Three “Creativity Killers”


Creativity is a MUST in Kids Ministry.  It takes creativity to capture attention and illuminate the gospel to a young mind that is bombarded with flashy, glitzy attention-grabbers all day from a world whose message is less than spiritually healthy.

We all want to be more creative, but we often fall prey to one or more of the three CREATIVITY KILLERS in ministry…

1)     PROCRASTINATION

There’s an epidemic of procrastination in Kids Ministry.  I can’t believe how many times I hear people saying that they don’t even begin to start their preparation for Sunday until Saturday Night.

Nothing will kill your ability to be creative like procrastination.

YOU CAN DO IT!  Work ahead!  Prepare.  Make time for creative thinking.  Get alone with God and pray.  Allow the Spirit to inspire you NOW for what He wants to do down the road!  It is THE most important part of the creative process.

2)  DUPLICATION

This phenomenon happens quite often in the church world.  We go to a conference, attend a seminar, watch a YouTube video, or read a blog as someone shares a great concept or strategy.  We think, “What an amazing idea!”  Then we run straight back to our church and try to duplicate it.

We hear reports of what God is doing in the church down the street or the “hot church” in our denomination, and we try to chase their ideas instead of asking God for His ideas.  We do this for a lot of reasons:

  • Duplication is easier

When we opt for duplication, we avoid the tough work of seeking God for a vision and strategy to grow our ministry.  It’s a lot easier to steal someone else’s “good idea” than invest time seeking a “God idea.”

  • Duplication is faster

It doesn’t take any time at all to get plenty of cool ideas from church leaders in every kind of ministry.  Type the words “Children’s Ministry growth ideas” on your browser, and you’ll get over 19 million hits.  There are books upon books and conferences upon conferences that provide a ton of great ideas.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with books and conferences.  I’m a firm believer in attending conferences, networking with other ministries, and reading great books. However, books and conferences can easily become a substitute for seeking God and trusting Him for guidance and creativity.

You see, duplication may be easier and faster, but the problem is…

  • Duplication rarely produces eternal results

Jesus told His followers, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).  What do we “seek first”?   Is it conferences, books, message boards, and ministry networks, and then do we go to God only when all those things begin to lose their punch? Instead, we should begin on our knees, seeking for His idea that will change our lives and ministry.

3)  DISQUALIFICATION

Some immediately disqualify themselves and say, “I can’t do it!  I’m just not wired that way!”  They allow themselves to believe the six word lie that I despise.  Here are the six words – “I’m just not a creative person.” 

Many Kidmin Leaders sell themselves short when it comes to their ability to think creatively and innovate.  They have decided that God only gifted a few key leaders to be able to create and innovate.  We have turned the innovative process into some mysterious, spooky, hokus pokus type of activity.

Listen – YOU were BORN for creativity and innovation!  Somehow, we allowed society to suppress our creative juices and we began to be conformed to the mainstream.  We are afraid of getting outside the box.  We allow fear to dominate our minds and hearts and we never become the Kidminnovators God wants us to be!

We serve a Creative God with limitless creative ability!  Even the most naturally innovative and creative minds are finite.  The term finite means “having bounds or limits; not infinite; measurable.”  But God is infinite.  He is “far above all,” not limited by any boundaries at all.  When we draw only on our own creative resources, it’s like drinking from a thimble instead of the Great Lakes.

I believe the time is coming when every Kidmin Leader will believe in God (and themselves) enough to be able to tap into the creative innovator that lives in each of them.  When that happens, we will change the world!!

Another “Time Change Sunday” Parody – “Call Me, Maybe!”

So many of you watched our other “Time Change Sunday” Parody Video (“On Time Style” and asked, “Do you have more?” Well, yes we do! Here is a great parody of the big hit, “Call Me, Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. This one stars our Preschool Coordinator, who apparently broke her alarm clock and wants you to “Call Me, Wake Me!” so she isn’t late for church on Time Change Sunday! Enjoy!

Becoming A “Kidminnovator”

I was privileged to be invited to speak at INCM‘s CM Leaders Conference this past September.  My topic was “Kidminnovation:  Unleashing Creativity in Kids Ministry.”  For those of you who were unable to attend or watch it on their LIVEstream, here it is:

After you watch the video, please share your thoughts in the comments section.  Thanks!

Thinking For A Change

Some of us haven’t made any changes to the way we approach our ministry in a long time.  If you are still doing ministry the way you were the first year you started, then it’s time to think differently.   “Thinking For A Change” takes some intentional focus.  Here are a couple of thoughts to help you become a better thinker…

How to be a better thinker:

1.    Set aside thinking time.

You will never be a good thinker unless you plan to.  You need to set aside time in your schedule that is distraction-free.  Take the time to think through and pray through all the different strategies you are implementing in ministry.  Ask God to give you a fresh perspective about these strategies.  Some may require tweaking.  Others may require overhaul.  One thing is for sure, you will never “fall into” thinking time.  It has to be scheduled and planned.

2.    Spend time with good thinkers.

Are there some great thinkers in your church?  Maybe they are business people, but God has gifted them with great thinking skills.  Are there Kids Ministers in your area that you respect?  Listen to how they process things.  Analyze the way they attack issues and difficulties.  It will stretch your ability to think.

For example – if you are a bad golfer, you don’t choose to play with guys that are as bad as you.  You know you will never learn anything.  Instead, you try to talk a couple of good golfers to let you tag along their foursome.  You try your best to pick up their habits and approaches.  It’s the same with thinking skills.

Find a good thinker:  ask them what they see, watch who they hang around, they don’t always act like they have the answer.  When they don’t know the answer, they go search and find someone who does.  Do the same thing.

3.    When you are with a good thinker, ask “WHY” they do what they do.

The person who wants to be a doer (task oriented) will ask “what do you do?”  The person who wants to be a learner asks “Why do you do what you do?”  It’s all about knowing what you don’t know.

Who are the thinkers that you can learn from?  Call them or email them this week.  Set up a time to meet with them.  Ask God to guide the conversation.  It’s time to THINK for a change!

How To Be More Creative

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I like to write about creativity.  It’s a passion of mine because I know so many people who sell themselves short when it comes to creativity.  Many have decided that “creativity is a gift reserved for the few.”  This is simply not true – not if you serve GOD!

Even the most creative minds are finite.  The term finite means “having bounds or limits; not infinite; measurable.”  But God is infinite.  He is “far above all,” not limited by any boundaries at all.  When we draw only on our own creative resources, it’s like drinking from a thimble instead of the Great Lakes.

God’s power, love, and plans are beyond anything we can imagine.  If we cultivate an attentive heart, we’ll tap into His limitless capacity.  We’ll never come close to the depths of His greatness, but we can take several steps closer!  In his beautiful prayer in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul prayed, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

What’s the biggest dream you can imagine about how God can use you in his kingdom? Seriously, take a moment and think about it.  Got it?  Guess what.  You just undercut God. Your greatest and grandest ideas don’t compare to God’s limitless plans and resources. God is not limited to working with our imagination.  He goes well beyond it—immeasurably beyond.

Far too often, we forget the power of God to inspire us.  We think His power is reserved for healings, conversions, and deliverances, but it also operates in our creative plans and dreams.  God wants to inspire us with so many “God ideas” that we’ll never be able to implement them all.  But first, we have to have open, receptive hearts.

Is your heart open to receive?  More importantly, are you asking?

(for more about Creativity and receiving “God-Ideas”, see Chapter 2 in my book, “I Blew It!”)