Picking the people who make up the Creative Planning Team for your church is a very important process. While there’s not a specific set of personality types, staff positions or volunteer positions, there is a basic setup of the core group. Because each church is different, I’ll list titles only because it gives context to the recommend roles involved in the team.
The Core Group It’s beneficial to have the following core members in the team:
Senior Pastor/Teaching Pastor for the series/weekend – in charge of the message delivery
Worship & Arts Pastor – in charge of choosing music, drama
Tech/Media/Communications Pastor – in charge of the technical aspects (both pre- and post-production)
Worship Producer – A project manager who coordinates the volunteers and keep the service flowing smoothly
Now those titles might not fit your church, but the descriptions of their roles will allow you to substitute the personnel to your local context.
There are three main groups of people who can potentially fit your personnel needs for a Creative Planning Team:
Staff If you have a staff, these people should know your vision, your heart, your style, your abilities and your personal limitations. What better group to help you turn a weekend message into a weekend experience?
One of the misconceptions is that you have to be surrounded by hyper-creative people for Creative Planning Teams to work. Chances are, when you come to the meeting with a basic direction of the metaphor, theme and topic, people will start throwing out ideas from their own experiences. I think you’ll be surprised at just how crazy some people’s life experiences have been, even if they’re very stoic, conservative people! Life is crazy, so creativity will flow naturally from those experiences.
Furthermore, some of your best and most creative moments will come from those who you least expect to bring up a brilliant idea. This is why even the most creative advertising agencies employ focus groups with ordinary people – because even they need to know how the “average person” will relate!
Volunteers No matter if your staff is zero or 500, having the fresh perspective of a volunteer who isn’t wearing the blinders of full-time church ministry is priceless. We often get so locked into our own ‘church worlds’ that we unintentionally become disconnected from the realities of our community. The honest viewpoint brought to the table by someone looking at the issue from the outside is, I think, one of the best resources you can have in your meetings.
Other Leaders For small churches, this is a biggie. The life experiences of someone who has been in and/or is in your shoes can bring clarity to a situation. Their own examples can be the springboards of creativity you need to launch into a topic. Even if their ideas and illustrations don’t fit you exactly, they are often the catalyst for other ideas that first got legs in another context. Even with large churches, having the resource of friends in ministry can be a something that you tap on a monthly basis. Maybe you only bring in these other leaders for the development of a sermon series instead of weekly meetings. Here’s the really cool part: they can bring you into their planning, too, as a great outside resource!
The core group I described above are people who spend their week preparing for the weekend. But there’s also a strong benefit of having “outsiders” join the group from time to time. Who you invite and when you invite them might be based around the upcoming sermon series, a holiday weekend or even a topical weekend based on current events. For each of these unique messages, bringing in members of your target audience into the planning can provide fresh perspective on how to communicate the message in a relevant way to that specific group.
For example, if you’re doing a Series on dating, invite in youth, college singles or even an engaged couple to bring their perspective to the table. Cultural dynamics being what they are, some of the things you experienced when you were dating might be the same today, but there will always be a new spin on an old thing. Having those you want to reach involved in the creative planning process can be extremely valuable and will likely help your message connect with a broader audience.
Mix it up With the exception of the core group, the remainder of your creative planning team should be cycled in and out frequently (at least every series). I sometimes hear how a church tried creative planning teams but burned out their group. No matter how creative the individual, everyone will hit a brick wall sooner or later. You need to give each person a break – including the core group members.
Creativity comes with a price: it’s hard work. In fact, it’s a lot harder to plan out weekends with a creative team than it is to go it alone. However, the results of a well organized team will not only provide better creative results, the shared responsibilities will also keep people from burning out and provide more lay leader involvement for plugging into the local church. Share your comment below or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter with your ideas or questions.
Anthony Coppedge is a church technology consultant, speaker, and author with experience identifying strategies, building scalable systems and processes, and focusing efforts to stay true to the vision and DNA of an organization. He has served on staff at three mega churches and worked in the church management software and audio/visual industry.