the blame game

Anyone who has watched an episode of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” has witnessed how the “boardroom” explodes when an initiative fails. Team members rarely choose to take responsibility for their actions and, instead, they resort to pinning the blame on a convenient scapegoat. What results is executive-level combat in which the candidates sell each other out in a bid to survive.

You can find the same less publicized bickering and back-biting in churches all across America.

When a church engages in the Blame Game, it is often because the creative process has failed. But unlike the Apprentice, church leaders must go on working together. And what is it stake is more than a job at Trump Enterprises; it’s often the well-being of our ministry and our community’s ability to live out its mission.

The creative process falters for a number of reasons. Sometimes the church rushes into creativity without being thoughtful about roles or infrastructure to support it. Other times, communication channels are unclear, creatives are micro-managed and relationships become strained.

Too many times, when our church’s journey to be creative takes a downward turn, we resort to finger-pointing. Fault is often assigned to the wrong things and the wrong people.

During my 25 years as a leader in the creative ministry, I have found the following issues to be at the heart of the Blame Game:

1. There’s no creative process

A lot of creative teams find themselves here. There’s no one to blame here.  If you don’t have a plan, it’s difficult to reach the goal of creativity.  Creativity takes time, a strong plan, and steady resolve.

2. The creative process is weak or flawed

A plan is needed, but not just any plan, but one that understands timelines and workflow, the target audience, the creative mind and the pastor’s heart and vision; a process that values it’s players by giving them the resources needed for creativity: stimuli, space, time, and focus.

3. The creative process wasn’t given a chance to succeed

Lack of patience is the only blame because serious calmness and composure is needed.  The creative process is a repetition of cycles, one after the other.  Frankly, a mundane process, but its systematic.  The system offers the freedom to creatives to create by providing time and resources (as stated above).  I find that many teams are impatient and don’t walk through a few cycles.  I personally think it takes a full year to really get the system under your belt.

4. There’s miscommunication between Pastor and Creatives

Even if the the true problem to the creative process is one of the first three, I find that this is often the excuse most vocalized;  finger-pointing because of miscommunication.  I chose my words with purpose here.  The communication between the Pastor and Creatives isn’t just poor but a complete miss.  Why?  They speak speak different languages; ministry and creative.  Not all creative team relationships are like this, but most are.  This blame game is unnecessary.

5. There is no one leading the creative process

And there needs to be someone leading the way.  There’s a hundred moving pieces in the creative process and if there’s no guidance, there will be mistakes and then blame.  The right creative director becomes leader, translator and art director.

We can assign blame or help nurture healthy creative views and strategies.

This is a guest post from Rick Calcutt. Rick has been in full-time ministry for more that 25 years; leading as Executive Pastor of Creative Arts for some well known mega churches with single and multisite campuses. He has been a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville for more than 15 years, taught at national conferences, and also is a creative consultant. He lives in the Phoenix area with his wife, Wendy. You can keep up with Rick at his blog Creative Junket

Posted in Creative Arts

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