Almost every church leader I speak with wants to be more creative.  They are always looking for better ways to communicate, deliver departmental ministry, and create more compelling services.  With that in mind, are there specific steps that pastors and church leaders can do to improve their creativity?

In the March edition of Fast Company magazine, Nike was honored as their 2013 Most Innovative Company.  As I read the article, I gleaned eight things church leaders can learn from this incredible organization about creating a culture of creativity.

  1. Be Fearless – Creativity is often stifled because of concerns about what people in their church will think if moved outside their comfort zone.  Stefan Olander, head of Nike’s Digital Sports division says, “Really cool stuff can come from the opportunity to test without constraints.”
  2. Embrace Technology – Whether its digital giving, interactive services, or utilizing social media to advance mission and vision, creative churches embrace technology.  So does Nike.  Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps says, “Nike has broken out of apparel and into tech, data, and services, which is so hard for any company to do.”
  3. Rethink Everything About How You Do Ministry – With the creation of the Flyknit Racer shoe, Nike had to rethink its entire manufacturing process.  This shoe has an opportunity to completely change the foot apparel industry.
  4. Rethink Success – What made you successful today will not keep you successful tomorrow.  CEO Mark Parker understand this principle.  He defiantly says, “One of my fears is being this big slow, constipated, bureaucratic, company that’s happy with its success.”
  5. You Can Always Do Ministry Better – The greatest enemy to future success is current success.  Parker goes on to add that “Companies fall apart when their model is so successful that it stifles thinking that challenges it.”  Company spokesperson Serena Williams says, “Nike always tries to improve.  They never say, ‘I’m No. 1 and happy.’  They always say, ‘How can we get better.'”
  6. Anticipate What Is Next – Are there leaders in your church in touch with upcoming societal and ministry trends?  With the creation of the FuelBand, Nike created a product that athletes would value.  They are now already working on developing a digital platform game built on Fuel points.
  7. Honoring The Past – You cannot creatively move into your church’s future without also honoring your past.  The Nike headquarters contains many artifacts from its humble beginnings.  One such item is a RV located in the middle of an area called Innovation Kitchen because it was rumored that company founder Phil Knight sold his first shoes out of the back of a similar RV.
  8. Create A Corporate Language – Your church should have its own language, its talking points, its ethos.  Bill Hybels would call this Axioms.  Phrases like “If you have a body, you’re an athlete” and “Be a sponge” are part of the internal Nike culture.

Fearlessness, Embracing Technology, Rethinking Ministry, Rethinking Success, Always Doing Ministry Better, Anticipating Trends, Honoring The Past, and Creating A Corporate Language.  If your church leadership practices these eight behaviors, your church can become an environment where creativity flourishes.

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