7 Keys to Practice the Art of Creativity

Creativity….the thorn in the flesh of almost every youth worker; especially those who work with young teens. So much has been written on the subject, and I’m certainly no expert, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts:

1) All of us are creative. I know this because you used to be 5 and all 5 year olds are creative. Over time, we have been taught how NOT to be creative by the constructs of our society.
2) Creativity in youth ministry is over-rated…we put WAY too much pressure on ourselves to do stuff we (but mostly others) will view as creative, exciting, cutting edge, cool, new, unique, etc.
3) My working definition of creativity: “The willingness to try something different”. If it’s sort of new or different in your setting, then it’s creative!

Here are several ways to practice the art of creativity; or simply to become a bit more comfortable trying something sort of new or different:

Hang Around Creative People!

One of the best ways to be creative, is to let others be creative for you! There are people in your ministry with TONS of new ideas, new perspectives and new ways to do the same old stuff. Surround yourself with a few of these folks.

Be a “Looker”.

We live in a world steeped in creativity. Open your eyes, and look for inspiration. Too often when we need a creative idea or solution to a problem we hole up in an office or coffee shop hoping something magical will pop into our heads.

Use T.V., Don’t Let It Use You.

Watch television….but watch it with a purpose. Some of our most creative minds work in the entertainment business and there is a lot to learn from them.

Go Surfing.

Or do whatever it is that refreshes you and clears your mind. Sometimes “walking away” from the pressure to solve a problem, write a bible study or design a youth group website is the best way to spark the creative juices you are desperate for.

Find Your Creative Time.

For most folks, creativity is tough work….so do it when you’re at your mental peak. For most, trying to thin creatively an hour after eating a massive bowl of Thai food for lunch is bad timing.

Clean The Slate.

Instead of reaching for last year’s summer camp file, start with a blank white board. Teaching another lesson on friendship? Avoid the temptation to make your first move grabbing last year’s lesson on friendship. Use your old stuff as reference points, but try not to automatically depend on them this time around.

Steal.

Seriously. Surf the internet and look at stuff other JH ministries are doing, and steal those ideas. Get to know the youth workers at the other churches in town, and steal from them. If you are using something of theirs outright, ethics would dictate you ask permission, but there’s no crime in seeing or hearing about something another ministry is doing and adapting it for your your own setting.

Question: What are some other ways you have sparked your creative juices?

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Kurt Johnston
Kurt Johnston has been involved in junior high ministry since 1988 and is currently the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry and Go Team! He loves providing resources for junior high ministry almost as much as he loves junior highers themselves.