~~Seven Ideas for Staying Creative in Planning
By William Jaques, Jr.
As a teenager, when I would hear my pastor preach a great sermon, I remember thinking that if I had the amount of time each week that he had to prepare my sermon, I could preach great sermons, too. After all, he didn’t have a real job. He just sat at the office all week praying, studying his Bible, and preparing sermons, right?
If you’re a pastor, you’re probably rofl (rolling on the floor laughing) right now. I certainly discovered how off kilter my thinking was when I accepted my first full-time pastorate. I discovered that while my church certainly expected me to make time for sermon preparation, they also seemed bent on preventing me from having any. There were committee meetings, deacons’ meetings, hospital visits, home visits, phone calls, and people who just came by the office to chat. Add to that the responsibilities of being a husband and father of three, and time became a precious commodity.
To be honest, I know very few pastors who aren’t busy, and being busy can kill creativity. What’s more, being in the same church for a long period of time can tempt us simply to maintain the status quo and numbs us to thinking outside the box. So, how do we stay creative in planning? Here are a few tips.
• Pray – God is the ultimate source of creativity. Evidence of His creative genius is all around us. Ask Him for ideas and listen for His response.
• Read widely – Look to others for ideas. Read your Bible, commentaries, popular magazines and journals, and books by Christian and non-Christian authors. Surf the internet for creative ideas. Learn the truth of Paul’s words, “Test everything. Hold on to the good,” (1 Thess. 5:21 NIV). God created us to live in community for many reasons, not the least of which is the sharing of ideas.
• Learn to manage your time wisely – One area in which the playing field is level is the amount of time each of us has to spend every day. If you are always in a hurry to get the next thing done, you will not take the time to be creative.
• Surround yourself with creative people – Some people just seem to have a knack for thinking outside the box and seeing things in a way that others don’t. Forge relationships with them and listen to what they say. Certainly not every idea will work, but through your conversations with creative people, you may discover a unique ministry for your church.
• Be aware of the demographics and the needs of your community – It has been said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Knowing who is in your community and what needs they have can be the impetus you need to find a creative avenue for ministry.
• Know where to find good resources and help – The Arkansas Baptist State Convention staff (www.absc.org), LifeWay Christian Resources (www.lifeway.com), North American Mission Board (www.namb.net), International Mission Board (www.imb.org), and the Southern Baptist Convention (www.sbc.net), have resources and staff available to help you impact this world for the Kingdom.
• Take care of yourself – Eat properly; get enough rest; and exercise. These three things will help you keep a clear and focused mind, which is absolutely essential for creative planning.
William Jaques serves on the Church Health Team as a consultant for stewardship and as the GuideStone representative for Arkansas. He and his wife, Marabeth, have three children.