We are all looking for an edge that will separate them from the noise in our communities.
Oftentimes, the key to breaking through the noise is to embrace the spirit of innovation that has driven change for years and the art of doing something new or different. When we do new and different things, it helps us to break through the typical creative patterns.
When Seacoast church became a multi-site, that was innovative.
When Hillsong started turning out songs from their ministry, it was innovative.
LifeChurch giving away resources at no cost is innovative.
Courageous Church giving away free breakfast and starting their church via social media was innovative.
So, how do we make our church or organization innovative?
We all find our God given individuality and build off of that first. Without know who we are we can’t ever truly innovate. From there these ideas could start the process for us:
- Create, don’t copy. Copying is easy. Creating is difficult. If we want to innovate, we have to do some difficult things. We have to create our own original works. What works for someone else may or may not work for us. If we are going to innovate, we have to identify the things that make us uniquely us; what makes us designer originals. When we get busy copying, we stop creating and without creation, there is no innovation.
- Have a clear mission. Not only having clear mission, but being committed to that mission forces us to point our organization towards innovation. We must know what we are willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable. Our mission is the rudder of our organization. Our mission is the filter that every decision must pass through in order to be executed. Our mission keeps us on track and we will never innovate if we are not on track.
- Fall in love with the mission, not our method. When we do things, especially successful things, we must refuse the temptation to fall in love with our methods. We should always be looking for new ways to do the things we do every day. Innovation requires us to think about what is next, not what is now. When we love our methods, we stop trying to figure out what is next. We can never rest on our achievements. We have to always be striving for what God has next for us and how we can accomplish that differently and more effectively.
- Change our lens. The greatest innovations come from people who see things differently. When we are being our innovative best, people will wonder what in the world we are doing. Figuring out how to do things differently, looking at problems and opportunities differently (or non-conventionally) often give us the ability to be innovative. Innovation often makes people question before they accept. Don’t be afraid if what you are proposing seems like it is “out there” or not going to be accepted. If it was easy or not scary, everyone would do it.
- How can we do this better? These are six words that breed innovation. Study our systems and process then ask “How can we do this better?”
- Allow creativity to thrive. Innovation shines when our best ideas win. From the Senior Pastor to the intern, the best ideas matter. Find them, cherish them, and share them. Focusing on our best ideas allows us to be prepared when #2 on this list hits and we realize innovation means we have to change everything…again. Beating our best stuff is the best compliment for our creativity. We should not be worried about what other churches do. We need to be worried about what we are doing to be better – how we are beating ourselves and the best stuff we have ever done. When creativity thrives, we can see we are growing because we are being better than we have been before.
- Be intentional. We don’t drift into innovation. Being innovative takes intentionality and a culture that strives to make a mark in art and in history. Innovation should be a by-product of doing our work to the best of our abilities. Passionately staying on mission provides the opportunity for innovation to thrive. Innovation develops out of the simple processes that we are using to be better and be our best.
- Shake the haters. When we create great stuff, it will have lovers and haters – but it won’t live in the middle. The middle is where we are ignored. When we are so focused on people’s opinions, we drift from our message and our mission. People come to our churches for what God is doing in them. Ironically, we quickly fall victim to these same people who loved what we have done differently to make us uniquely us and try to change us to what they want church to be. Shake The Haters. Stay on mission. Fight to keep our DNA pure.
- Innovation is kin to revolution. What is the one thing we can do that no one has ever done before? What is the one thing our community needs that no one is giving them that fits in our mission? Doing THAT thing is innovative and will make a mark.
- Accept rejection. Not everyone is going to like us, and that is okay. When we are being innovative, we are going to be rejected. We must believe in what God has called our church to be…at all costs. Live in the confidence of all that God has called you to be – that is innovative in its own right.
- Innovation does not require infinite resources. Innovation creates momentum – this can be done without a ton of cash. Don’t rely on what funds you do or don’t have. It’s about ideas, not cash.
- Get the right crew. If we want to innovate, we have to have the right people in our organizations. Hire people who will be owners of your vision, not renters. Give them space to own. As they buy in and develop, partner them with people who will help them continue to remain an owner. Being an owner does not mean that someone has all the experience. It means they have all the motivation. Sometimes, experience can hamper innovation.
- Be a hustler. Innovation might happen tomorrow, or it could take years. But hustlers understand that we are working towards a goal, not just for the moment. Hustlers are always asking questions. Hustlers never feel they have arrived because they know there is more that can be done. Are all the people in your city saved? If you answered no, there is more work to be done. Keep working, keep pushing, and keep trying to get better.
These ideas won’t change what you do, but they might challenge what you do and allow you think with innovation as a lens. So, let’s innovate. In our communities, our churches, and our world. We may never be LifeChurch, Elevation, or Mars Hill, but we can be our absolute best “US” in our community, and that is what really matters.
Do you feel you are working in an organization that can change YOUR world? Are you ready to innovate? What would you add to this list?
Being an artist or creative person can be SO frustrating.
We’re asked to create things that matter, connect, and are cool – but not too cool. We live our lives in the open and we have the things we make critiqued and picked apart. All of this supposedly making us better.
If we artists would embrace one small truth early in our lives, it will make navigating our emotional life much easier.
“We Can Only Control What We Can Control”.
That’s it. No more, no less.
We rarely get to control:
- Parts of the process
- Unclear expectations
- Timelines / Deadlines
- When information changes
- That there’s more work than time
- That art is subjective
But we ALWAYS get to control:
- Our attitude
- How we approach our work
- How much passion we share
- How much we care
- If we’re going to go the extra mile
- How we respond
You are an artist. Your art matters. It’s not an addition to the vision of your organization, it’s the vehicle that organizations use to share who they are, what they do, and what they’re about. We need you and your absolute best art.
You matter. What you do matters. Most importantly, how you do what you do matters.
Every day we are faced with a choice RESPOND or REACT. The choice is yours.
Everyone can be creative. I believe it more and more each day as I’m marveled by the way people around me navigate life and situations. Creativity is all around us. But not everyone is created to be a leader. Everyone has a different capacity of how much they can handle and thus, how much they can lead.
But what happens when a really creative person is put in a position of leadership? Sometimes, it’s amazing. Other times, it can be a complete disaster.
If you’re creative and want to be a leader…we need you. It’s time to go to bootcamp and step it up. Lives and amazing art are in the balance. Are you ready? Because there are people waiting for you to assume your role and lead them into their future and God’s best for your life!
Creative Leaders Tend To:
- Challenge. They tend to be uncomfortable with the norm. They want to make changes, see momentum gained, and help build the “next” things. When they can’t do new things, they at least want to do the old stuff in new ways. It’s a gift and a curse.
- Question. They ask a lot of them because they know without them, expectations won’t be clarified.
- Make connections. Creative people tend to see things others don’t. They solve problems differently and process differently. Their imaginations lead them and their ideas often create solutions. This could scare or challenge an organization, or at least until it works.
- Dream. They are full of ambition and vision for what they want to do. They see what “could be” and will drive, work, and fight to pull that out of their teams or themselves.
- Feel. It’s good and bad. Sometimes their feelings will save an organization. Other times, their moodiness is going to drive everyone crazy. You can’t always have the amazing ability of connecting the emotions necessary to create great art with the ability to control those same emotions.
- Drive. The challenge of the art or the search for a solution drives them. They will work relentlessly to get it right before they quit because they know quitting will haunt them.
- Get “gumby.” Creative leaders tend to be more flexible and more able to adjust. They understand the canvas is rarely perfect and understanding this, they’re not shocked when things change. They’ve learned to adjust and compromise to make their best – no matter what the circumstances.
- Buy! They buy the vision. It fuels them. They stay on brand because they’re passionate about the work and are always looking to connect to something bigger than themselves.
What would you add?
Chasing all that God has for our lives and our art is a journey.
The most successful creative people do not wait or expect someone else to do their work. This select few does not hold out for validation of what they know must be done. They are doers, so they do. They hustle. They’ve taken the time to find, pray through, and define the end goal. Then, they start the journey to that distant place.
So, they start.
Along the way they make mistakes – they win and lose. Occasionally they have people who join them on the journey, but they never deviate. They keep moving. Keep working. Keep driving. Their passion is the fuel for what they know they have been created to do. Along the way, they sometimes morph or adapt – but they never stop chasing their own destiny with focus and precision. They are more consumed with creating momentum than they are concerned with being validated or accepted. Achieving their end goal is not an option – it’s a mission; a mission given to them by God to create, innovate, develop, and challenge.
So, they go.
They work hard to make sure they never confuse mile markers for finish lines. They keep going, always finding ways to keep moving. They don’t sit around and wonder who is going to understand them, be passionate about them, or do something for them. They understand that, at the end of the day, no one is going to care about their calling more than they will. They listen to the wisdom of a few and refuse to be swayed by the opinion of most. They know the cost and they pay the cost daily so that they can stay true to their calling.
And they keep going.
They don’t confuse success with completion. They refuse to react but choose to respond. They prepare enough to succeed and leave enough space for creativity and improvisation to develop. They understand the process is as beautiful as the destination, and that God’s colors and character light the path. They are thankful for those that believe in the vision that God places on their journey to help carry the load when it gets heavy, but have the clarity to stay on mission – even when it’s unpopular.
The irony is that the destination is usually never landed upon because God has more for us. Those rare times we do reach the destination is only so He can change our course and create a new journey. So, we keep going – hoping to create our best work along the way.
Have you embraced the fact you are the one person most responsible for
your journey and destination? What do you do to keep your focus on your journey?
I had lunch with a friend about a month ago. We were talking about creating art and the idea of trust came up in our conversation. The truth is, I probably am not great at trust, but boy do I love control.
Trust and control can’t coexist.
If you trust, you don’t have to control.
If you have to control, you don’t trust.
This is true in our art art but also true in life, relationships, and faith.
Trust and control are like dark and night.
Most of us want control and have a desire to trust but, for whatever reason, we don’t realize we can’t have both.
Control is birthed out of pain, fear, insecurity, and the desire to believe we can determine the outcome. It’s an illusion that destroys teams, chemistry, and prevents people from growing and developing into all they can be.
Trust encapsulates freedom, security, belief, and the ability to see others succeed. It takes confidence and the ability to be sure of who we are and who God created us to be. Trust takes time and commitment. It requires conversations and a lot of work. It’s not easy but it is so worth it. Trust allows others to be their best and allows us to become our best.
There’s a very funny thing that happens though when we learn to trust – it creates an environment where control isn’t necessary because goals are defined, teams are empowered, and people are able to do their best work. When we trust art flourishes and we make better stuff.
I think all passionate people wrestle with this tension at one time or another. I am on a mission to learn to trust more and control less. It will change how I get to lead and it will empower those around me to lead better. It’s not their problem, its mine.
Are you trusting or trying to control?
“Every Day is a Chance to Create Art & History”.
Sunday does not happen on Sunday, it happens Monday through Saturday. We create and work every day for the chance to share our art on Sunday. A chance to help communicate a loving, caring, grace filled God with a hurting world. Not for arts sake…for the lives of lost people. We get to serve communicators with worship elements. I love what Gary Molander says about art in his book Pursuing Christ Creating Art: “Art is our opportunity to to make an invisible God visible.”
So, we show up.
We do our work.
We create, we dream, we build.
We do all we can.
Then, on Sunday, we pray that the skin we have created for an invisible God resonates with someone who needs Grace, Hope, Love – someone who needs art to make the invisible, visible.
Today is your chance.
Do your best work.
Create your best art.
Stop worrying if you are accepted. Of course you’re not…you’re an artist.
Stop buying excuses.
Stop believing that the artificial boundaries around you can contain you.
This is your time. This is your moment.
Forget being normal.
Be the authentic you that God created first…in HIS image.
When we do this, we are helping to make the invisible things in our world visible. If we’re lucky, we will see our art make history – not for us – for someone who needs to see or feel God.
Are you ready to make art & history?
How can you do that today?
has been a friend for a few years. He is great at connecting people to action, and he is the guiding force behind the Catalyst movement! Brad released a new book that I am sure you heard about entitled: THE CATALYST LEADER
. In his spare time from jet setting with tastemakers and producing live events, he sat down for a little interview on his book, creativity, and what is next for his life:
1. As the president of Catalyst, you have been instrumental in helping position people as thought leaders. You have been a somewhat behind the scenes supporter to some of the premier leaders in our culture. What made you decide to step out and write this book?
- I wrote this book primarily for 4 reasons. First, I have a passion for leaders, especially the next wave of leaders who are stepping into places of influence, those primarily in their20’s and 30’s. Second, while leading the largest leadership movement that gathers young career aged Christian leaders in America, I noticed that many of these young leaders desired to lead right now, but they didn’t know how to ultimately lead well. We have a generation of “called but not yet equipped leaders.” Leaders who are passionate about making a difference and having influence now. Called leaders who want to change the world, a generation ready to action, ready to influence and ready to lead, but not yet equipped for the task. They need the tools, the roadmap, the guide for leading well and getting that done. So many of my peers at 25, 30, 35, 40 years of age are flaming out and need a resource to help them finish well. Third, I noticed that the leaders who were leading well shared several common traits and characteristics. What I’m calling the eight essentials. The book lays out those 8 essentialcharacteristics for becoming a change maker, and ultimately a Catalyst Leader. Fourth, we’ve been handed the reins to lead. I just turned 40, and I believe it’s my generations turn and time to stand up, take the reins, and lead. We are now in the drivers seat, and it’s up to us. We need to step up, those of us in the “in between” of leadership generational transfer. I want to see leaders, my peers, finish well. And I have a responsibility to help the “called but not equipped” generation be well equipped. Too many leaders are crashing early and often right now. Just like me, tons of leaders in their 20’s and 30’s are facing great opportunities that they feel a deep calling and passion for, and willing to take on, but not altogether equipped to handle. These peers of mine need a roadmap, a guide, a handbook for leading well and tools for the journey forward.
- Our generation needs a roadmap for leading well. Some of my best friends currently sit atop great organizations but are failing to shepherd their teams and lead these entities well. I’ve begun to see a disappointing pattern among young leaders. They achieve liftoff with a rocket start but quickly fizzle out. With each instance of short lived success, I grow further convinced that we need to nurture leaders who will not just lead now, but also lead well. Ultimately, I’m writing a book that I wish would have been available to me 20 years ago when I was first starting my career and vocation life
2. What is the one thing that you feel like younger leaders need to know today that they seem to be missing?
- That overnight success and instant influence is not the reality, even though our culture tends to push us all in that direction because of the on demand culture we live in. We have to fight against this mentality and the idea that if it doesn’t happen for you within a couple of weeks, or a month, or even a year, that you should just give up and move on. We need to lean in to perseverance and a stick with it posture.
3. In turn, what is one thing that more seasoned leaders should be paying attention to today that they are not?
- Let young leaders on your team actually lead. Give them responsibility early and often. Not just making copies, but actually push them into roles that will challenge and stretch them, and have significance within the organization.
4. One of the chapters in your book is on authenticity. I am sure you have been around some of the most authentic leaders in the world and them some who are maybe a little less authentic. What are 2-3 sure signs that someone is an authentic leader?
- 1. It’s not about them- they reflect the attention in the room towards others.
- 2. They honor their team members.
- 3. They laugh at themselves and are very comfortable with others laughing at them.
- 4. They don’t take themselves too seriously.
5. It’s been said that a book is a mirror for its author and a good book is also a mirror for its readers. What is the most personal part of this book for you? Was there any section that was hard for you to write because you have wrestled with the content so much?
- The chapter on authenticity was tough for me to write because I tend to struggle with this essential. Mainly because I’m around some pretty amazing leaders and my tendency is to want to be like them instead of just being myself. I end up investing energy into creating a false version of myself with lots of bells and whistles, vs the real and true version of myself that is great but may not have the sizzle that I want. I have to realize that until I’m truly being me, I can’t truly lead others.
6. If someone was to only take one thing away from your book, what would you want that to be?
- We can all be change makers, a force for good that when put in play, it creates a spark, a change, and makes a difference, has an impact, but ultimately leaves no residue of itself. That is a change maker, and ultimately a Catalyst Leader.
- We all are responsible to lead well, and lead now. It’s our turn, and we can do this. We can make a difference, we can change the course of our organizations, we can be Catalysts for good in our world. I’m incredibly hopeful about this generation.
7. Shifting gears a little bit, how important is creativity to the Catalyst organization?
- It’s vital. It’s one of our distinctive and one of the things we take great pride in and put lots of energy into- creating a culture and DNA that is all about creativity. It’s something we are constantly working on.
8. I know it is a long process, but can you break down what the creative process for an event like catalyst might look like? (just a quick summary, don’t feel the need to be to in-depth) .
- Tough to break it down, but we create and consider and vet hundreds of ideas for every event- probably close to 500 ideas. Of those, we’ll end up doing due diligence on about 100 of those, and then maybe implement 20-30 that actually get used at an event or in the lead up to an event, maybe for a website or for promo materials. We have folks who serve on our creative team, most of which don’t work for us on a full time basis, and they constantly are thinking about new ideas or sending new concepts for consideration.
9. How do you personally refuel creatively?
- I look for inspiration everywhere. And I learn from everyone. Leaders who want to inspire a creative organization have to be willing to look outside their normal circle for inspiration and ideas. Every TV show I watch is a chance to spark a creative idea. Every road trip is a chance to see something new. Every visit to You Tube or vimeo or even to other organizations websites is a chance to find a new artist or musician or concept. Look everywhere constantly without bias.
- And the key on being refueled and constantly inspired is to make sure and write it down. When you see something, or run across something that fuels or refuels your creativity, write it down. Capture it. Take a picture of it. Put it on evernote. Whatever your system is- make sure you actually capture it somewhere.
- Also- I get refueled creatively by giving myself permission to dream and dream big. Many type A ambitious leaders are so focused on moving things towards the finish line that they have to intentionally create space to dream.
10. What is the biggest lesson you have learned about creativity and how did you learn it?
- Creativity takes work. Most of the time I find that the most creative ideas are created from layers and layers of ideas that have been built upon each other. The process many times is what sparks the most creative end result. So allow ideas to have a life and breathe a bit. Don’t just automatically say no.
- Many of our most creative ideas and concepts or programmatic moments at Catalyst were actually finalized at the last minute, when everyone was frustrated and it seemed like we weren’t making progress.
- Many creative teams and leaders I know give up too quickly on an idea because they feel like being stuck is a sign of a lack of creativity. But I think points of being stuck are actually mile markers towards greatness.
- Another big lesson- Creative sessions and meetings should always have a “yes, and” rule of engagement, and never a “no, but”. Leave out anyone who can’t live by this rule. If someone is immediately thinking about “how much will this cost?” or “there’s no way we could ever pull that off” then ask them to leave the meeting and never return again…!
Bonus: I hear there are rumors of a “Catalyst Leader” rap album with you as the premier artist. Can you confirm?
- I can neither confirm nor deny these reports…. But I will say this- the powers that be in the music industry are mixing up something pretty amazing that involves a former rapper only known as “Crème L.” That’s all I say….
Get more info about the book HERE
Equity in an organization is so important.
Creative teams can create all day long but if the rest of the organization does not trust them it does not matter. Further, when equity erodes, it creates a barrier between creators and the products they are creating. Without a distribution source creative ideas and products become creations for vanity. So how do we protect our equity? What traps can we avoid that will damage our equity inside of our organizations? Here are a few
- Believe the hype – Never read our own press. Good or bad. Remember the work, the process, and the team. When we start to accept the praise we set the expectation that we must also accept the failure.Find the balance. Celebrate the wins and learn from the losses, but don’t over believe the good or the bad. That roller coaster will kill you.
- Stop creating and start repeating – New creations keep us fresh. Not just us, those whom which we work also get fresh with new ideas and creations. When we fall into the trap of repeating and reusing elements we risk future creativity and innovation. This one little short cut can retard the creative culture of our organizations or churches.
- Stop learning – We can’t stop learning. Do research. Find out what other people are doing and what is working. Don’t copy them…but study your industry. Know where art is going and how technology can be leveraged for your benefit. Read and read a lot! Keep learning to stay sharp and creative.
- Become difficult – If we become a pain in the butt, people don’t want to work with us. Sure, for a while your talent will force them to put up with you but eventually the pain of trying to work with us will pass your talent and leave us lonely. Always treat people how you would want to be treated. The quote “People judge themselves on intention and others on action” is hauntingly true in the lives of artists. Extend grace to the level we would want to receive grace.
- Refuse to be flexible – Flexibility and creativity go hand in hand. When we stop being flexible we strangle creativity and process. Fight for ways to be flexible it creates space for creativity.
- Blow Deadlines – This one is tricky. Most projects have a due date and hitting that date is the “deadline”. However, when we fail to plan we hurt our best creative ideas. Managing time is about the entire scope of the project, not just the last 48 hours. Find ways to work further out on projects so they get space to breathe. When this happens we will have a better chance at creating our best work, not just our fastest.
- Over promise under deliver – It will hurt us every time. If we make a promise…keep it. And never make promises that we don’t have control over.
- Stop asking questions – If we don’t ask questions we ignore possibilities. Questions make every project better.
- Look for the NO CANT. – This is the first hint of negative thinking. We should be looking for the “yes and” not the “no can’t”
- Fall victim to the trap they are always right. – Other people have experiences and good input. Listen to them. We don’t have to always be right…we just have to always be willing to adapt. Create great stuff and create it with a great attitude. We are blessed with the gift to create for a living. What an honor.
If you start to see these traps popping up take time to make corrections you could be headed down the wrong route.
What are some ways you have found that cost you equity?