by Beth Graybill
Anybody else wish you could squeeze a little bit more creativity out of your team?
Everyday teams of talented, creative, thoughtful, passionate, hardworking men and women give blank stares, burn valuable time and energy and hold back on their creative talents when given opportunities to create something new or bring something back to life.
These opportunities may be pathways to improve ministry environments, create meaningful worship experiences, contribute to greater organizational health, or develop a stronger staff and volunteer culture.
If you have a team struggling through this “holding back” kind of season, you may be asking, “What’s wrong with this team?! I’ve given them complete freedom to make improvements or come up with something brand new here!”
But, do you know what they really need?
Call it a system, a structure, a playing field, a pathway, a pipeline, a canvas, a routine or rhythm, parameters, guardrails, boundaries, lines or expectations. Whatever you call it, your team needs more than just new opportunities—they need a framework.
My old boss used to remind me:
We create systems for efficiency so we can free people up for creativity.”
And what he meant was this—we give people a framework so they don’t have to guess on the expectations. So they don’t have to guess on the boundaries or framework of the ministry where they are leading or serving. So they don’t have to guess on the edges of the creative canvas they’ve been given with a new program or project. So they understand the parameters of a new pathway.
“But doesn’t structure crush creativity?”
If we’re not careful, structure can crush the creativity of an individual or a team when the framework is too tight, the box is too small, or when there’s no room to speak into the parameters.
But structure can actually create the freedom your team needs in order to bring their creative best to the table.
Even Jesus gave his followers a framework when he asked them to tell others about the Good News of his death and resurrection “in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth” (Acts 1:8). He could have simply said, “Share the Good News everywhere you go,” but he didn’t. He actually spelled out the framework for sharing the Good News. He didn’t dictate how to share the Good News. He just gave instructions on where to share the Good News.
So here are 5 Steps to Establish a Framework for Creativity:
- Tell a Story: before you dive into project details, create the vision or paint a picture of your desired future with this project, program or ministry area
- Establish a Framework: have a conversation on parameters, expectations and essentials of the project that support the vision
- Develop the Scope and Sequence: talk about a timeline and think through questions like: How long? How much? How often? How does this support the vision?
- Make a Commitment: stack hands as a team on individual and collaborative contributions to this project, program or ministry
- Stay Creative: find ways to constantly infuse creativity into the framework
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. –Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)
Beth Graybill is on pastoral staff at Saddleback Church in Southern California. Beth is passionate about organizational and leadership development, spiritual formation, and creative curriculum content development. She’s worked with Propel Women, Zondervan and Anchored Press. Beth is married to Matt Graybill, who is a Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback, and is the mom of two adventurous sons.