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?Your systems define your results.? This is a phrase I’ve said often, and I believe it’s absolutely true. But is there a point where systems can actually hinder your church?s communications?

This is a tough question for me to answer, especially since I?m the kind of person that thrives on systems. I believe they?re essential to the success of your church?s communication. You must have systems in order to plan and execute properly.

The fact is, though, that systems, when held too tightly, can hinder your church?s communication. That concept may not make much sense on the surface, but I?ve been on teams where we stuck too closely to the system and we were less productive and less creative as a result.[quote]Systems, when held too tightly, can hinder your church?s communication.[/quote]

I want you to be able to use systems correctly on your church communications team without being a slave to them, so here are three ways to control your systems rather than allowing them to control you.

1. Embrace the blue sky.

In the initial phases of an idea it?s always good to do some blue sky sessions. These are basically brainstorming sessions, but the reason they?re called ‘blue sky’ is because there are no constraints. If you can think of an idea, it gets written on the board. There are no wrong ideas. There is no one saying, ?We don?t have the budget to do that.? Or ?There is no way we can pull that off.? These sessions are meant to get all the ideas out on the table so that we can go back later and see which ones stick.

The temptation here is to start to implement a system of selection or constraints, but that would just simply serve to kill ideas. And that?s not helpful to the creative process in these beginning stages. Don?t worry. The time will come to focus in on the best ideas that bubble to the surface, and there is a system for that. But for now you just need to embrace the blue sky.

2. Embrace constraints.

As church communicators, we need to embrace constraints. Systems often serve as those constraints. Without constraints, your mind is set free to think. That also means though that you have nothing holding you to the ground, which is fine in blue sky sessions. But without constraints, you actually can begin to become less creative because you begin to think that anything is possible.

You can?t spend all your time up in the clouds or else you begin to lose touch with reality. Then when it comes time to actually execute on your ideas you realize they?re not actually possible in your context. Then you have to go back to the drawing board.[quote]You can?t spend all your time up in the clouds or else you begin to lose touch with reality.[/quote]

The best thing to do after a blue sky session is to make a list of constraints you have. This could include budget, man-power, materials, etc. When you have that list, you can go back to your blue sky ideas and see which ones are viable and realistic, and which ones can be saved for another time (or just completely thrown out).

3. Reject ?that’s the way we’ve always done it?.

One of the easiest traps to fall into in church communications is to create new systems that allow for more efficiency and better overall communications and never stray from them again. It may sound counterproductive, but you’re never going to stretch yourself to do new things unless you?re willing to stray from current systems. That?s one of the reasons the church became so irrelevant in the late 20th century?because they valued tradition over people.

You must value your systems, but you must value your people more. When you value your people more than your systems, you?re willing to try new things for the sake of reaching new people.[quote]You must value your systems, but you must value your people more.[/quote]

An example of this is that for years my church had the same format for our welcome packet. A simple tri-fold containing information that a new visitor would need. A couple of years ago we decided to try something new. We wanted to take new visitors on a journey, and this included our welcome packet. So we threw the entire welcome packet away and started from scratch. What came out of that departure from our old system was something awesome!

So let?s agree right now that in church communications our systems do not define us. They help us, but we need to be willing to depart from them in order to create something new.

Is there a system you?re using that you need to leave for a time in order to create something new and fresh?

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