Home Worship & Creative Leaders Articles for Worship & Creative Is “Creative Planning” an Oxymoron?

Is “Creative Planning” an Oxymoron?


n.pl.ox·y·mo·ra(-môr, -mr)



A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in a deafening silence and a mournful optimist.

It could be that the idea of creative planning is an oxymoron. After all, does not creativity come from problems to solve? Possibly the worst idea, however, is that creativity is simply utility. Task is often coldly machine-like. Creativity, when it is truly firing on all cylinders, is magic.

There are mechanical, technical tasks in creative endeavors—as is true in any endeavor. The difference is that what drives creativity is the substance of dreams. The more dreaming about the possible pervades a team, the freer the flow of envisioning how that dream can become a building, an experience or a song.

This week I enjoyed leading a creative team meeting that mined from a group valuable ideas and tangible possibilities. We had just one hour to accomplish quite a bit. I learned a lot in the process. I love to get to the task, but I think our meeting also hit some magical moments as we shared personal stories and related that to our goal in connecting to our target group.

Are you task-driven in your creativity at times like I am? Creatives have to lead people, too. Here are a few things, in discussion, that might help clarify if the dream is held hostage by the task. 

Strategy and integration is stalled by tactical whims. I once bought a microphone because I was strongly compelled to solve the problem of turning my neck and missing a note. However, it was badly integrated as it sounded poorer than the original mic. Could we be in danger of creating Frankenstein solutions rather than strategic building blocks?

Change is seen as an improvement or as progress, which may not be the case. Sometimes change is just change that is necessary. The new thing will have new problems. If you grow in numbers, that creates different problems. A church may have more people, but are they better off because of being larger? Or, is change sometimes neutral in progress given its impact on the whole at times?

Culture is seen as monolithic rather than a mosaic. The truth is that every family has a unique culture—some eat dinner together, others play together, some keep away from each other. To creatively plan to reach a group of people, it often means it is real and should be embraced or shunned?

Frameworks and limitations give creativity legs. When there is a limitation to creativity—such as a time and place or budget—creativity leaves the world of philosophical ranting and actually births something tangible. If you know you need to fit 50 people on a stage and make it work, you will make it work—or else. Have you bravely defined your “win” as well as the parameters of your creativity goals? What are the true limits?

I am sure you have other thoughts about making creativity actually a tangible dream. Let’s talk about this a bit.