My wife and I have spent the past few days visiting some of our family down in sweet home Alabama. Coming from the hustle and bustle that’s a part of our everyday lives in Baltimore, it’s been very relaxing to kick back in the slow-paced culture of Oneonta. This trip has provided me with some wonderful free time to catch up on some reading. I started by finishing up Phil Cooke’s Branding Faith which had been stuck on chapter one in my Kindle app for far too long. But when I was finally able to make it through my RSS reader, this new post by Jonathan Malm stuck out from the rest.
I like this statement: I have more creativity in my little pinky than you have in your whole body. It’s a juvenile bit of arrogance. But it illustrates my point for today. So get over it.
The idea is this: the more limited you are, the more chances you have for creative thinking.
For instance, let’s imagine you need to open a jar of pickles. If you use your whole body as your resource, it’s pretty easy. Now imagine opening the jar with just one pinky. Which requires more creativity? Which requires more out-of-the-box thinking?
The truth: creativity thrives in extreme constraints.
So here’s what this means for churches. If you are the only “creative” on staff or you work at a small church with a tiny budget, you have the opportunity to be more creative than the mega churches. While you may not be able to “wow” people with massive productions, you have the ability to communicate clearly through creativity. You can identify what you want to communicate and do that effectively. And that’s what creativity is all about in the church.
This is the case for me as I serve as a lone creative on our church staff and we do work on a limited budget. As I look at mega church technology and design that continues to wow and push the limits on what we all thought could be seen in church, it often brings discouragement. It’s easy to start thinking that certainly OUR church will never be able to accomplish something as creative as THAT. But, if you can allow yourself to set the jealously and gadget-lust aside, you can truly use these churches for inspiration. By pairing ideas from places like that with your own creativity, then you can truly get somewhere.
Too many creatives get sucked into the trap of thinking creativity happens without limits. “If I had $$$ I could be so creative. If I had ## extra staff members I could do amazing things.” But that sort of thinking only translates to throwing resources at a problem.
Why do the wise, large companies study smaller companies? The small companies are forced to innovate. They’re forced to be creative with their resources. It’s difficult for large companies to think creatively because they’re used to throwing money at their problems.
So here’s my encouragement. Be happy in small spaces. Embrace boundaries and constraints. Use them as a chance for creativity. They’re an opportunity, not a hindrance.
Talk about a creative kick in the pants! I hope that this sparks something in you as it has with me. Jonathan has done a tremendous job of reminding us of the power of SMALL. So, what will you do? Will you continue to bemoan over your lack of money and staff members (as I have many times), or will you embrace this as an opportunity to get truly creative? There is a great quote that’s been used in advertising Steven Furtick’s new book “Greater” that I think perfectly compliments this post. “Stop waiting for what you want. Start working with what you’ve got. Your greatest limitation is God’s greatest opportunity.”