It's time for church leaders to dream again. Here are our top tips for looking ahead and getting creative and strategic, even in the midst of the unknown.

This is a challenging season for dreaming and creativity. It's easier to be reactive, passive or even to live in denial. 

Yet, as difficult as it might be, it's necessary to dream, look for opportunities and be proactive in our planning and communicating - especially as this season continues. We're in this for the long-haul - and dreaming and creativity is something we need to fight for. Be intentional about. And pray for.

We're striving to stay inspired so we can lead and support churches well. Here's what our team is learning on the journey to more dreaming and creativity:

  1. We are naming it.
    We are saying it out loud - "We want to dream more" - and holding each other accountable. We're asking:

    "We know there are opportunities. What are they?" 

    "There is this need or gap. What value are we uniquely gifted to offer?"

    "What is God calling us to?"

  2. We're giving time and space.
    This is a season where we want to intentionally give time and margin to be open, to ask questions, to ponder, to learn and innovate.

  3. We're trusting each other.
    We're open to feedback from our churches, and we're looking for the insight of others. Who are you trusting? Trust brings better questions, deeper conversations and the opportunity to go somewhere new together.

  4. We're leaning into each others' gifts and skill sets.
    Who are the dreamers on your team? Or do you need to identify dreamers who can come alongside your team? Lean into their instincts and empower them. Then challenge your leaders and full team to surround and support the dreaming and new ideas that are being considered. 

  5. We're pondering the "wow" - before the "how."
    We heard this from Andy Stanley years ago. New ideas deserve some time to be considered and added to. Later, you can ponder the details of how the plan or project will come together. But first, look up at the blue sky, and consider the opportunity. 

  6. We're following the sparks.
    And we take those sparks and add fuel to live out our mission, vision and values. Be bold to take a first step. Don't overthink it. Don't be afraid to take a misstep.

Still feeling like dreaming isn't in the cards for you? Here are a few more tips:

  1. Find ways to collaborate with others.
    This collaboration might be within your church, with other believers or churches and throughout the community. Collaboration equals momentum.
  2. See barriers? Getting pushback? Name them.
    Discuss barriers openly with those involved, and ask your team to help you know how to get to a better place.

  3. Creativity is often born out of chaos.
    Plans, budgets, timelines and deadlines are important. We need some order to move work forward. Yet there is a time to open up and encourage some chaos to help us look up and around and ponder new ideas. 

  4. Creativity builds with others.
    Push each other to see possibilities. Add to others' ideas. As you brainstorm, try using the old improv trick, "Yes, and ..." instead of saying, "that won't work, because ..." 

Finally, a quick note for leaders: When dreaming takes off with others on your team, it can be a time where you might feel insecure or defensive. Please remember ...

What could be is not a criticism of what has been.

Pray that you can see the energy and creativity coming from your team as a gift and not a threat. 

What questions, barriers or ideas do you have about adding more creativity and dreaming back into your life and your ministry?