Spark Your Inner Creativity: 4 Ways to Get Creative

Spark Your Inner Creativity: 4 Ways to Get Creative

December 10, 2018 by

“The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet.”

That statement has been one of the driving core convictions of National Community Church since the earliest days of meeting in movie theaters.

God first revealed himself to humanity as Creator. As people created in his image, part of bearing that divine image is being creative ourselves. We strive to be creators, not only in the obvious fields of media, design, worship, and video, but also in small groups, discipleship, preaching, even operations.

There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of before. There are ways of discipling people, of teaching kids, of sharing our faith, of funding missions that no one has thought of before.

Every person on your team is a creative; how do we nurture it, celebrate it, and unleash it? How do we spark our own inner creative, regardless of the particular field we specialize in or the unique personality style and gift mix we carry?

1. Cross-Pollinate

In the book The Medici Effect, author Frans Johansson introduces the idea of “intersectional innovation”—the creativity that emerges at the intersection of two seemingly disparate ideas, concepts, or fields of study. During the Renaissance, artists, scientists, poets, and philosophers converged, breaking down barriers between disciplines and cultures and ushering in one of the most explosive eras of creativity and invention. In more recent times, architects design energy-saving office complexes by studying termite mounds. Engineers collaborate with biologists to understand the toughness of the conch shell and apply the principles to tank armor and automobile bodies. These innovators are re-imagining life at the intersection of ideas.

We often think that innovation is the result of gradual learning and advancements in individual fields. History shows, however, that some of the most progressive leaps forward occur when ideas from different disciplines are mixed in the crucible of creativity and fresh ideas emerge from the process.

To spark your own creativity, cross-pollinate. Expose yourself to different types of thinking, new disciplines, and innovators in creative fields. Read books, listen to podcasts, take classes, explore museums, and engage in new experiences.

Read a biography.

Visit an art installation.

Observe a football training camp.

Watch a documentary on the development of military special forces.

Take a cooking class.

Paint a self portrait.

Go for a hike.

Meditate in a cathedral.

Try something new.

Do something even though you might fail.

Intentionally pursue learning from different disciplines and expand your sources of inspiration to innovate.

2. Color Inside the Lines First

Picasso, one of the leading figures of 20th century art, is known for cubism, constructed sculpture, and collage. He created a total of somewhere around 50,000 separate works, including 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics; roughly 12,000 drawings; and numerous tapestries and rugs. Because of his advancements in style and contributions to modern art, it is surprising to some to learn that his earliest works were classical in nature—portraits, still life, paintings of everyday occurrences. It was only after he had achieved excellence in realistic life representation that he branched out into new genres and leaned into avant-garde styles. He perfected the art of coloring inside the lines before he started breaking them and contorting them.

Often, we think creativity means doing something that no one has done before. While that is true, it doesn’t mean we can skip right to it. Before we start coloring outside the lines we have to first master the basics. We have to learn the rules, respect the process, practice the disciplines, make the habits instinctive, and color inside the lines. Then we can break the rules.

To spark your inner creativity, return to the basics regularly and make sure you have mastered them. Try coloring inside the lines and see if it triggers new ideas for breaking the rules.

3. Commit to Relentless Improvement

Several years ago my husband and I saw the musical A Chorus Line in New York. It’s a show dedicated to the stories of the singers and dancers that fill Broadway stages eight performances a week but who never receive top billing or household name status. The playbill contained a blurb about their training that struck me:

“They have appeared in 87 different shows in which they have given a total of 31,002 performances. Collectively, they have had 472 years of dance training with 637 teachers—counting duplications. They spend approximately $6,248 a month on dance lessons.”

These are people who do what they do because they love it. They are professionals who have earned the degree and completed their professional credentials. And yet they are still stretching, learning, and growing—and paying a significant price to do it. They invest a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources into perfecting their art because it’s their passion and their calling.

It challenged me. How much am I intentionally investing in honing my skills and my crafts? How much am I challenging myself to learn more about discipleship? To improve my teaching? To perfect my writing?

Professional athletes subject themselves to the pain and misery of training camp every year. They spend time in the weight room and carefully monitor their diet.

Doctors pursue new learning in the advancements of the medical field regularly.

Teachers work for continuing education credits during their summer breaks to stay on top of their game.

To spark your inner creativity, commit to relentless improvement.

4. Invite Editors

Finally, invite editors into your life. In the literary world, editors look for the misspelled words, unclear ideas, awkward sentence structures, and mixed metaphors. While they are skilled at finding mistakes and fixing them, they do much more than that. The best editors don’t just correct what is wrong; they improve what is already good to make it better. They discover hidden potential and pull it out, they take good concepts and show a writer how to make them better, and they introduce perspectives that write new chapters (sometimes literally).

In all areas of creative work, editors can take ideas from good to great.

Don’t just allow people to edit; intentionally invite people to aggressively edit. Ask questions:

  • What will make this better?
  • What doesn’t make sense?
  • Is there a story, metaphor, or picture that would help?
  • Who else could speak into this process?

To spark your inner creativity, surround yourself with trusted editors.

Ready to Get Creative?

Whether you are thinking through announcement strategies, redesigning bulletins, rethinking discipleship pathways, reconstructing databases, creating graphics and videos to support sermons, or redeveloping small group leader training, take time to spark your inner creativity. As you set goals, establish schedules, and determine priorities for the upcoming year, take some time to reset your creative growth and make sure you are creating time to cross-pollinate, returning to the basics to make sure you are still coloring inside the lines well, prioritizing the perfection of your skills, and inviting editors into your process.


This month Courageous Storytellers is focused on creativity. Learn more from Heather Zempel with her resource on how to escape the creative slump. We’ve also got videos, templates, and other resources to help you spark your creativity.

Post By:

Heather Zempel

Heather Zempel is the discipleship pastor and campus ministries director at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and she's the author of several books, including Big Change, Small Groups. Heather lives on Capitol Hill with her husband, Ryan, and energetic daughter, Sawyer, and loves growing as a leader, discipling the next generation, and watching SEC football.
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