Turning Ideas into Reality, Part 1

Yesterday I told you I would be giving you access to my system for recording, cataloging, and implementing my ideas. After writing it out, I’ve decided it’s much too long for one blog post. I don’t want to shortchange you by reducing it, so I’ve divided it in two. The second half will be posted tomorrow. Here is the first half of the process:

The Birth of the Idea

The genesis of any system for getting your ideas from your mind to reality starts with the initial moment of inspiration. I’ve found that these moments occur in two different ways.

Sometimes they will appear out of nowhere. I’ll be doing something that requires zero creativity, yet one of the most creative ideas I’ve ever had will come to me. You’ll find that your subconscious is often working harder than your conscious mind ever will. Collecting random bits of information and making connections you never would. When God decides to use it to present you with something fresh, be ready.

Others come through learned observation. What I mean is that you have to train yourself to become aware of everything around you and its illustrative and revelatory potential. The books I read are no longer just for my own personal edification. They are goldmines for ideas. Every conversation I have, my favorite memories from family vacations, everything has the potential to birth an idea inside of me. Because God has created the world, everything around us possesses the possibility of more fully revealing the One who created it. Or giving us insight into the way His creation is designed to work. So keep your eyes open.

The first source of inspiration requires little to no work. The second may require intensive examination and reflection. Both are required if you want to maximize your mind’s full potential.

Get it Down.

The next step is crucial. It’s the one most pastors never get to and why most ideas never see the light of day. Ingrain this instruction in your head: write everything down.

Record every creative impulse. Every good idea. Every bad idea. Every possible vision initiative. Every potential illustration. When you’re reading, if the author says something in a fresh way that could illustrate one of your own concepts, record it immediately. Don’t highlight the sentence and hope you remember to flip back and find it later. You won’t.

Write it on a napkin. Record it on your phone. Write it on your iPad. Tatoo it on your arm if you have to. Whatever you have to do, just get it down. Some of your best sermon ideas were never preached because they weren’t written down. You thought you’d remember. You didn’t.

I write most of my thoughts in a Moleskin. But I’ll also do whatever it takes. I’ve called my own voicemail before and left a message just so I wouldn’t lose an idea.

However I end up recording it, I follow up and transfer it to either my computer or my iPad to make the second half of the process more efficient. We’ll pick up there tomorrow.

For now, keep your eyes open for every little piece of inspiration God gives you. And have a pen ready.

Read Part 2 here.

Read more from Steven here.

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Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
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I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
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