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Why Structure is Essential for Creativity

My family and I own a vineyard and a small winery. The vineyard and winery are not my full-time job, in fact–I’m a pastor. But I spend a lot of hours in the vines, which ends up being about meditation as much as it is about caring for the farm. When the sun is high and you’re sweating like crazy, the vineyard has a way of showing a person things—things that one might miss were it not for the hours, and the slow pace, and the sheer beauty.

The other day I was out in the vines tucking the long vines up into the wire trellis where the canopy can gain maximum benefit from the sun and ultimately ripen the fruit fully and evenly. It got me thinking about the importance of the trellis—the wire, the posts, the structure. Without the trellis, the vines would never produce fruit. They would grow along the ground where the weeds and bugs would devour the plant in one slow, summer-long bite. The fruit would most likely rot, lying on the ground. I honestly can’t think of anything more depressing.

Point is, we need structure. We need to be tied to something, trained, and disciplined. Now there are a lot of good ways to apply this little “field lesson” to our everyday life, but since this is about creativity in the local church I will simply say this: Our churches are producing the fruit that our structures will support. If you want to grow new pastors and preachers, if want to see new songs and songwriters, you need to think about the trellis, a support structure that gets the creatives at your church off the ground, away from pests, and into the sun.

Growth requires a considerable amount of structure to come to fruition. People need goals and deadlines, and values, and input, and freedom, and limitations. In an environment where anything goes, usually nothing happens—it rots on the ground.

You have potential new preachers in your church right now. You have songwriters in your church right now. You have talent and real potential for fruit in your church right now. The question is, do you have a trellis?