Awaken the Creative Genius in Your Ministry

Jonathan McKee
February 6th, 2010

It’s Wednesday night, 7:15 p.m., and 22 kids fill the small youth room. According to the evening agenda (scribbled in ballpoint on a napkin), it’s time to “pull everyone together” and start.

What’s next? Announcements, Worship, Talk, Dismiss.


Monotony exits.

Creativity enters, stage left.

Let’s try again, shall we?

It’s Wednesday night, 7:15 p.m., and 22 kids fill the small youth room. The youth worker walks in the room and announces, “Everyone follow me.”
Kids glance at each other and shrug their shoulders, “Why not?” They follow the youth leader out to the parking lot, where they see four small stacks of refrigerator-sized cardboard boxes evenly separated on the asphalt.
“Build your home. You’re homeless, and this is the only shelter you have for the night.”
An hour later students gather to warm their hands around the small fire crackling in a round metal garbage can as the youth pastor talks about reaching out to “the least of my brethren…”

Why Settle?I hear it all the time: “How come my kids are so stagnant?”

“Define stagnant,” I often will reply.

“They aren’t growing. They’re the exact same as they were last year. They never want to get off their butts and do something. It’s like they are in a rut.”

Hmmmm. Kind of like, Sing, Talk, Dismiss.

Get out of a programmatic rut. I’m not saying that it’s bad to have a night that basically consists of worship and a sermon…but every week the same ol’ thing? Who’s stagnant?
Change it UpWe should try to change it up every once in a while.

Build a huge altar out of stacked rocks in your youth room and teach the passage where God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Ask the students, “If God asked you to place something on the altar, what would that be?” Have everyone write down their most prized “possession” or person, whatever that would be. Then ask students to come up and place that piece of paper on the altar. Talk about why God tested Abraham in this way. Ask how He would test each of us.

Or forget the normal meeting location for a week. Go somewhere else and light a bonfire. Give a short talk about the junk we allow to creep into our life that doesn’t belong there. Provide a small stack of kindling and hand each student a piece.

Encourage the students to share with the group what it is that God is prompting them to get rid of—and toss the piece of kindling in the fire.

Or teach on fasting, but propose a “cell phone fast.” Have a “mobile” altar call as you wrap up the discussion where kids can drop their cell phones in a bag that you’ll keep locked in your office for a week. Teach kids to pray every time they “miss” their phones.

The sky is the limit. Unleash your creativity! And if you struggle to come up with “out of the box” ideas, then surround yourself with a handful of people that can brainstorm with you.
Don’t worry, creative ideas don’t necessarily mean more work, some of them are actually easier than the prep required for a “normal” week.

Focused Creativity

Don’t do something zany or different just for the purpose of being zany or different. Know where you’re “going” with your creativity.

This doesn’t mean that you need to force a “Bible wrap up” for everything you do (“As we eat this pizza, let’s pretend we’re like the 5,000 that Jesus fed!”) But be purposeful with your creative ideas. Sometimes your objective could be fellowship. After all, our kids need to bond with other believers. Other times our objective might be teaching our kids humility and service.

Know where you’re going before you get there.

Begin your brainstorming session the same way I did as I thought of the ideas above. I was thinking about the subject of prayer and fasting. That made me wonder, How could I teach fasting in a way that would really hit kids today? Cell phones

immediately popped in my head. The idea unfolded from there.

Start with your objective—what do you want to teach? Write it down in a middle of a piece of paper if you have to. Then brainstorm, How can I teach this in a way that they’ll really “get it!” Write down all your ideas, surrounding the objective on your piece of paper. Which idea would really teach your objective clearly? Is this idea achievable without endangering lives or getting fired? (Fill the baptistery with blood to teach the plagues? Maybe not!)

Don’t settle for the same ol’ thing. Change it up every once in a while.

What are you waiting for? Get out your piece of paper!

Jonathan McKee

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.