3 Tips to Leverage Your Capacity for New Ministry Ideas

Suppose you’re invited to participate in a brainstorming session. The facilitator says that “every idea counts” and invites you to propose as many ideas as you can in the next 15 minutes. You feel rushed. You suppress ideas you think won’t get support. You narrow your own limited list of ideas, offering just a sample to the group. The facilitator posts yours and your colleagues’ ideas, inviting everyone to vote for which is best. Of course, not everyone is on board with the winning idea and while some give in, most aren’t sure about the new direction the meeting has taken.

Therein lies the rub. Our tried-and-true ideation processes can actually dampen the creativity companies are working so hard to create. To promote real innovation, we need to stop giving lip service to new thinking, get away from the need to reach consensus and instead nurture approaches that truly forge new ground.

The resistance to change and real innovation is natural. It’s driven by some deep-seated forces that we need to recognize to foster new thinking.

  • Force #1: Need for inclusion and connection: When we are brainstorming with others, the need to agree, feel included and to think the same way others do. Real innovation requires divergence and expanding our ideas into the far recesses of our brain that may be less comfortable or familiar.
  • Force #2: Being Right: Thinking the same thoughts repeatedly lulls us into a sense of comfort. Thinking we know the “correct” answer reinforces feelings of intelligence and good judgment. We may not even realize we are in a repetitive loop, or experiencing status quo thinking. Instead, we feel good that we got it right.
  • Force #3: Mental Grooves: Thinking repetitive thoughts etches “grooves” into the brain. The brain then reinforces what it knows, perhaps at the expense of what is new and novel. Along these well-trodden paths, brain structure serves to link learning to behavior in predictable ways. Yet getting into those parts of the brain forges new connections—both at the idea level and at the level of the brain tissue itself.

To up our innovation game we have to think differently. We rarely pay enough attention to leveraging our capacity to form new ideas, test, refine, and advocate for new concepts. Here are 3 tips to do just that:

>> Tip 1: Prime your brain with trigger words. We need to prime our brains to freely generate and express ideas, not suppress them. So, state the problem or challenge you are working on. Find trigger words related to your challenge to get your juices flowing. Sleep on it, watch a movie, and go to a park. Give the body something to do while the mind wanders freely. Then put yourself to work.

If you’re in a group, consider listing trigger words in two columns on a white board and asking colleagues to look for connections between the words that otherwise wouldn’t be obvious. Invite people to generate as many ideas as they can for a few minutes, and then conduct your brainstorming session with your brains primed to think differently.

Related: Break Out the Office Cake. It Could Change Your Company.

>> Tip 2: Think of the worst idea. Remove the fear of making mistakes, feeling stupid or safe or receiving negative feedback. No idea is a bad idea. In fact, research shows that what appears after ‘the worst idea’ can become a trigger for the best ideas no one has thought of before.

Related: Stop Having the Same Conversation Again and Again

>> Tip 3: Let it flow. Don’t wait for inspiration or settle for perfect solutions. Instead, generate a wealth of ideas with others. When you’re inclined to stop, or judge your ideas, keep going. Don’t get caught in your usual patterns and instead open up your mind to a ‘non-judgmental’ state where your ideas and others’ ideas can connect. If you are feeling anxious, uncomfortable, or lost in uncharted territory, know you are on the right track.

Related: Read This Before Your Next Hard Conversation

Remember: Most innovative ideas come through experimentation and discovery. Prime your brain and set the stage for the most amazing new novel and exciting ideas to emerge. In the process you’ll learn to learn to trust innovation instincts – yours and everyone else’s.

> Read more from Judith here.

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Judith Glaser

Judith Glaser

Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of six books, including Creating WE (Platinum Press, 2005) and Conversational Intelligence (BiblioMotion, 2013), and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

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I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
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