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Staying Creative

Dr. James Emery White | Mecklenburg Community Church | Published: Jun 04, 2014

Staying Creative

One of the challenges in any sphere of life, particularly ministry, is staying creative.  And it’s an important challenge.  We need creativity in our messages, children’s programs, outreach strategies, and so much more. 

So what is the solution to becoming more creative in our output?

It’s simple.

Become more creative in your input.

Here are five easy ways to increase your creativity input, and as a result, increase your creativity output.

1.        Read.  There is no substitute for a steady stream of good books that will fill your mental tank with ideas.

2.        Travel.  Exposing yourself to new places, and ideally, different cultures, will expand your creative vision exponentially.

3.        Capture.  When you have a creative idea, capture it immediately.  Write it in a journal, jot it down on a scrap of paper.  Keep paper and pen around you at all times – in your bedroom, in the bathroom, in your car – anywhere ideas tend to come.

4.        Expose.  The internet allows a wealth of opportunities for immediate exposure to what others might be doing in your field.  Take advantage of it.

5.        Think.  If you don’t have times where you just meditate on things, reflect on things, you won’t be giving your creativity a chance to function at full capacity.

Here are three more thoughts on creativity that may be helpful:

First, if you want to be creative, then strive to be creative.  Not emulative.  Some people mistake creativity for borrowing someone else’s creativity.  In other words, they need a new idea for a video, so they look around at what others have done and take their work – or copy it.  That’s not creating, that’s copying.

Second, I find it helpful to have someone in mind as you create.  For example, if you are writing a talk, have an actual person you know in mind that you are writing it for.  Maybe two or three.  Think about how you would need to say it for them.

Finally, remember that excellence is doing the best you can do; creativity is about the best God can do through you.  

And that’s a lot.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon.  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Staying Creative