3 Phrases That Squash Your Team’s Creativity

Do you ever feel like your church gets stuck in the same old ruts—doing the same old things, over and over and over again?

Do you wish you had a way to encourage your team (and maybe yourself) toward becoming more creative?

Chances are there are three words in your everyday vocabulary that are hindering your own creativity—and by proxy, the creativity of your staff. Since you don’t realize you’re all using them, you have no way to overcome the creative blockages.

The next time you have a creative meeting, or you want to brainstorm new ideas, consider banning these three words:

1. Should/shouldn’t.

“We shouldn’t spend the money on that,” “We should make sure so-and-so doesn’t get angry,” “We shouldn’t do anything that is out-of-the-ordinary, or that would defy expectations,” “We should make sure everyone feels included.”

These phrases are a part of our normal, everyday conversations and, while some of them are even right and true, they might be limiting our creativity.

Should is limiting because it doesn’t allow us to see the possibilities of what we could do if we were to throw off the restrictions we’re so used to working under, just for a minute. That doesn’t mean these restrictions don’t exist. It just means we choose to ignore them until we’ve explored all possible solutions.

Sometimes “should” makes us miss out on “could.”

Sometimes there are solutions to our “shoulds” that we don’t realize exist until we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to do something creative.

2. Always.

“But we’ve always used the auditorium for our Easter celebration,” “Dan Jones is always the one who reads the scripture during service,” “You’re always in charge of that—give someone else a turn!”

Sometimes we spend so much time trying to figure out how we’ve “always” done something before, we don’t give ourselves any space or energy to envision a new future. What if, instead of talking about “always,” we used words the words, “what if … .” What if we had the space to create, without judgement?

What if we tried this

What if we did something different?

What would happen if we took a break from how we’ve “always” done it before?

3. Never.

“We’ve never tried that before … ,” “So-and-so would never go for that,” “Never in a million years would pastor give us the budget for that,” “The board would never approve a decision like that,” “We’ll never get enough volunteers, enough buy-in, enough enthusiasm, enough help.”

Never stunts creativity in the same way “should” and “always” do—by assuming the problems of the past are the same problems of the future.

What if we assumed there were new, innovative ways to create solutions? Perhaps those who were “never” supportive before would become supportive this time. Maybe what was “never” possible before would become possible now.

We’ll never know—until we stop letting “never” get in the way.  

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Justin Lathrop
With over a dozen years of local church ministry Justin has spent the last several years starting business' and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv all while staying involved in the local church. Justin is obsessed with connecting people to people and lives his life daily to make the world a smaller place. He now serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominately working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people. He blogs regularly about what he has learned from making connection at www.justinlathrop.com.