As you create, you have two choices: action or reaction. Do you come up with brand new ideas, or do you recreate the ideas of others? Neither is inherently bad, but both require different approaches.
Ecclesiastes 1 states that there is nothing new under the sun. I wrestle with this concept. As a creative person, I don’t want to believe this can be true. There has to be something out there that has not been done yet. There have to be ideas that have not been thought and concepts that have yet to be executed.
I struggle with this verse because I believe the Bible. But I also believe that God is the ultimate Creator and that He created us to create. We were made in His image. So we can create new things.
Regardless of how we cut it, we are either creating something new or we are going to imitate something that has already been created. Again, neither is more correct than the other, but there are unique spins on both approaches.
Action to create something new has its own gifts and curses. We have to have the margin in our creative process to come up with the idea. Margin is where creativity lives and without it our ideas don’t have a chance. We have to have the ability to not just come up with the idea but also to develop a plan to see that idea come to life. As we are processing our fresh/new idea, there are some questions that deserve to be asked:
- What are we going to do and why are we doing it?
- How are we going to resource this idea?
- Who needs to be involved in the idea?
Once we have answered these questions, we have to vet the idea a little further.
- Is this idea going to create momentum around the other elements with which it will interact?
- Will this idea connect with the audience or are we creating something just for the sake of art?
- In identifying connection, do know the story that lives inside of the idea?
- What is the desired feeling of this idea? Is this idea meant to inspire, motivate, or be contemplative?
- Should there be a call to action around this idea?
The ability to make an idea connect and to be relevant requires vision, inspiration, and a heaping load of intentionality. Then it requires courage to follow our intuition.
There is some risk that lives inside of creating new ideas, so before you go out and start dominating a bunch of new stuff, make sure you are communicating. Share the ideas early and get buy-in from leaders, teammates, and decision makers. Most people are afraid of things they have never experienced before, so success can sometimes rise and fall on the champions you have built around your ideas.
A few weeks ago, we wanted to do something new. We knew it would stretch our team and we would risk failure. Before we even started creating, we sat down a group of people and explained why we needed to do this and got their buy-in. We executed the idea…and it failed. One of the wins hidden in this failure was the fact that we had everyone on the same page take the chance together and leveraging the risk for the reward as a team.
Some of us don’t live in environments where risk is rewarded, so the best we can do to move creative momentum forward is to remix ideas we have seen elsewhere. There are a few things that are vital to this approach to creating successful as well:
- Make it yours! Don’t just copy what is being done. If you don’t add your own creative angle and context to the idea, it won’t create the results you desire.
- Make sure it has purpose. Don’t just remix an idea because it was cool. Connection matters, and it is created inside of context. Make sure your remixed idea is not an orphan in your programming.
- Do it well. Don’t take the chance if you can’t execute it well. Execution matters and there is nothing worse than the pain of living through 3 minutes of awkward execution.
- Know whom you are creating for. You are creating to support the rest of your service and to move someone somewhere. Don’t create something just because Hillsong or Elevation did it and you think it is cool.
Every action we make carries a consequence. Good and bad…so make sure you are being intentional with your creativity.
You will build and spend equity over time so make sure you have enough “chips” to cash in on each idea so you don’t put yourself, your church, or your team in a situation that compromises momentum and what God is doing in your community.