CREATIVITY & The Emotions That Make Us More Creative

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Research cited in this article indicates that people who are passionate are also more likely to be creative. In other words, when hiring people for creative tasks, look for those who are highly passionate about the topic.”

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INNOVATION & How Robert H Schuller Shaped Your Ministry #WarrenBird

By Warren Bird, LeadNet, 7/27/15.

SCHULLER4.jpgRobert H. Schuller, left, during the celebration service for the installation of his son Robert A. Schuller (with wife Donna next to him) as senior pastor at Crystal Cathedral in 2006.

“Possibility thinker” and pioneering pastor Robert H. Schuller died April 2, 2015, at age 88. Bold, creative, charismatic and controversial, his life and legacy drew immediate major coverage in both the mainstream press and evangelical stalwarts like Christianity Today.

What most people don’t realize is how much Schuller influenced today’s church, not just the megachurch movement, but churches of all sizes and styles. Few congregations today offer church services in drive-in theaters, where Schuller started, nor do many build architectural wonders like Schuller’s inspirational Crystal Cathedral, yet Schuller’s impact is significant and widespread. As Leadership journal pointed out back in 1997, Schuller was the first in the modern era to:

• Call his denominational church a “community church,” since he felt most seekers didn’t understand or relate to a denominational label.

• Rename a sermon as a “message.”

• Use a nontraditional setting for church worship—in his case, a drive-in theater, followed by a drive-in church.

• Conduct door-to-door research, asking, “Why don’t you go to church?” and “What do you want in a church?” (which Schuller describes in his book, Your Church Has Real Possibilities).

• Use marketing strategies to reach nonchurched people (he did so about the time George Barna was born).

• Train pastors in leadership (Institute for Successful Church Leadership, 1969, later named the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership).

• Televise a weekly church service, the “Hour of Power,” starting in 1970 and not missing a week for decades, a program which conducted many format experiments such as interviews with high-visibility guests…

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ARTS & True Story About How a Church Survives Over 1 Year Without a Sermon – by Using the Arts!

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/13/15.

“A Church Survives Over 1 Year Without a Sermon.”

That’s a headline that a lot of church attendees might appreciate.  But we know that Romans 10:14 says, “And how can they believe in the one of who they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (NIV).

*OC Cover 64KBut, there are many ways to share the truth without the modernist “lecture” or “sermon” as the main message carrier.  Jesus used stories, personal action, social engagement, etc.  In fact, while researching my book (Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations, Abingdon Press, 2006) I found a church named One Place in Phoenix that had utilized innovation to sustain and grow a congregation for the 1+ year they did not have a preacher … or a sermon.

If you would like to learn more you can download the chapter here (not for public distribution).  And if you liked the insights, consider supporting my publisher (and me) by purchasing the book.

Here is how the chapter begins …

One Place
Phoenix, Arizona
(Excerpted from Inside the Organic Church, copyright Bob Whitesel, used by permission)

The outcome of a year without sermons.

A contemporary church, like a contemporary translation should impress the uninitiated observer as an original production in the contemporary culture, not as a badly fitted import from somewhere else. – Charles Kraft, anthropologist and author

First Encounters:

The preacher was nervous, for One Place Church had not had regular sermons for over a year, and this was his audition. Dressed in floppy hat, t-shirt and faded jeans, he delivered a remarkably poignant and engaging sermon, sprinkled with video clips from current movies.

As I sat in the middle of over 70 attendees, I wondered how this church had survived for
over a year without a teaching pastor, or regular sermons. “Without a teaching pastor, we had to teach the Word though mediums other than the spoken word,” stated Mark. “Interactive stations became our primary means for truth delivery.” Looking at the vibrant and enthusiastic throng, it appeared to work.

Download the chapter here:  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – ORGANIC CHURCH One Place Chpt. 8

ARTS & Another Innovative Salvation Army Video – The Bill Booth Theatre Company

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  “As I mentioned in a few other postings, artistic creativity and innovation in our churches is often missing unless it is in media or music.  Thus, to spur other arts (e.g. theatre, improvisation, sculpture, painting, dance, etc. etc.) I’ve suggested to students that Christians become more familiar with the arts by attending plays, galleries, performances, etc.

A Wesley Seminary student who is a part of the Salvation Army (quite of few of our students are Salvationists) shared this humorous video by the theatre troupe of the Salvation Army, named (with tongue-in-cheek) after their founder William Booth.

Take a look at the video, its poignant message and enjoy the creativity.

ARTS & An Example of Creativity – The Salvation Army ‘Steel Drum’ Band

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/13/15.

At Wesley Seminary at IWU we have Salvation Army officers who are our students (and some of our best students as a matter of fact 🙂 Some of those students have shared that the Salvation Army (which has been known for brass street bands for decades – see this great video: ) also has more modern outreach bands.  Here is how one student stated it:

“As an organization we support the development of ‘Gospel Arts’ which includes everything from Brass and vocal music to worship bands, steel drum bands, and drama troupes. We even have a visual arts/media department. Our goal is to model and teach at a level that inspires excellence down to the local level. We have a long way to go, but we do work hard at it.”

Here is a video of the Salvation Army Steel Drum Band.

I think we can all agree that there is still a great deal of creativity coming out of the Salvation Army.

INNOVATION & Why Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of Time #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary from Dr. Whitesel: “As this article & accompanying research point out, brainstorming often leads to too many options and too much to do. So, in addition to brainstorming you need an ‘ideas editor’ who will trim down the many ideas to the ones that are best suited to your strengths and goals. A real life case study is how we designed the Wesley Seminary curriculum. Many people and many voices went into designing each seminary course in the hopes of creating a collaborative model. What he did was create an overly complex curriculum which frustrated students with too many assignments going in too many different directions. Thankfully the faculty and Dean assigned to each course a “lead professor” or content editor. Then with student feedback we adjusted the assignments to meet the goals in a more doable and effective manner.”

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DIVERSITY & Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working

How Diversity Makes Us Smarter

by Katherine W. Phillips, Scientific American magazine, 9/16/14.

It is reasonable to ask what good diversity does us. Diversity of expertise confers benefits that are obvious—you would not think of building a new car without engineers, designers and quality-control experts—but what about social diversity? What good comes from diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation? Research has shown that social diversity in a group can cause discomfort, rougher interactions, a lack of trust, greater perceived interpersonal conflict, lower communication, less cohesion, more concern about disrespect, and other problems. So what is the upside?

The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think. This is not just wishful thinking: it is the conclusion I draw from decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers.

In Brief

  • Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.
  • It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does.
  • This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.

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BIAS & Research Confirms Talking About Your Biases Can Help Reduce Them

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This soon to be published research in Administrative Science Quarterly found that if people are reminded that everyone stereotypes others to some degree, then they will be more open to share their biases and as a result be more creative. In other words, let people know that everyone has biases and that we should not be afraid to discuss those biases. Doing so, rather than hiding our biases, fosters more creativity and problem solving.”

Study Says Creativity Can Flow From Political Correctness

“I think most people want to be unbiased, and there are ways we can try to make that happen.” – Michelle Duguid,a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

by NPR staff, JANUARY 24, 2015 6:14 PM ET.

Michelle Duguid,a professor at Washington University in St. Louis and her co-authors set up an experiment to see if the notion that politically correctness impedes creativity held up to scientific scrutiny.

They sat down students in groups of three to brainstorm ideas on how to use a vacant space on campus. Some of the groups were all men, some all women, others mixed. Control groups got to start right away on the brainstorming, but the test groups were primed with a script.

The research team told those groups that they were interested in gathering examples from college undergraduates of politically correct behavior on campus. They were instructed to, as a group, list examples of political correctness that they had either heard of or directly experienced on this campus.

Duguid and her colleagues started another experiment, one that looked at stereotypes. They tested whether educating people about stereotypes would in turn reduce stereotypes. What they found was that by publicizing the fact that the vast majority of people stereotype, it actually creates a norm for stereotyping.

“People feel more comfortable expressing stereotypes or acting in ways that would be seen as inappropriate because it has set up this norm where everyone does it, so I might not be punished,” she says.

Duguid and her co-author tinkered with their message. Rather than telling the group that everyone was guilty of stereotyping, they simply told them that the vast majority of people put effort into not stereotyping.

“[It] actually had great effects,” she says. “It was the same as telling people that few people stereotyped. So that actually reduced stereotyping, and it was better, significantly better, than telling them nothing at all.”

For Duguid’s study, this was good news.

“I think most people want to be unbiased, and there are ways we can try to make that happen,” she says.

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BUDGETING & How to Prioritize Innovation in Your Budget

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Our Good News is so imperative for the world to hear we must find innovative ways to tell it. But, often churches are left in the flotsam and jetsam of society because our message, while eternal is not innovatively shared. This Harvard Business Review article points out that if you are spending less than 10% of your budget on innovation, you will never become a creative communicator.”

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DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE & Would Your Church Use These People? A leadership exercise.

You probably know from my book “Growth By Accident, Death by Planning” (2004, Abingdon Press, pp. 109-120) that because of God’s regenerating power, He can use anyone.  Thus, we must not let appearances deter us.  For example, answer the following three questions about the attached picture:

1.  Can you take guess who the people are in the attached photograph (below)?

2.  And, then tell me what you think your people would do if this group showed up on your ministry doorstep one day.  Now, don’t just give a pat answer that “We would welcome them.”  But rather be honest and tell how these people might really feel to your ministry leaders. Would they be looked at as experts?  Or maybe your ministry leaders would feel then need some time to adjust and fit in before you utilized them.  Then tell us why you think they would be treated this way, either accepted or ostracized.  Then, share some steps you might undertake to build a team from them and from your existing ministry volunteers.

3. Finally, what might we potentially miss by failing to welcome in and build a ministry team from such unconventional and quirky folk?

I will give you some of the usual answers to chose from (in case you are stumped):

1.)  The Doobie Brothers
2.)  Lynard Skynard
3.)  Parents of the Backstreet Boys
4.)  Park Place Church of God Handbell Choir.
5.)  Dr. Whitesel’s Eagle Scout Troop
6.)  or  ??


Now, one of my witty (and technologically talented) students sent me this attachment (below) which purports to show hidden meanings in the picture I attached above.  I hope you enjoy his humor (I know I did 🙂


So, ask yourself.  Will these people fit into your ministry culture?  In many ministries they won’t. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to contribute.  They do.  And, while IBM dismissed these young people and thus missed catching the wave of the next revolution, you don’t want differences in culture to blind your ministry to building a team with people who are just culturally different.


INNOVATION & 15 Incredible ‘Aha!’ Moments #InfoGraphic

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “How does creativity come about? Usually it comes when someone looks closely and recognizes a problem. For instance, Nick Woodman went surfing and could not take pictures of himself, and soon he founded GoPro cameras. Let your creativity be stoked when you fine out how 14 more inventors experienced their ‘Aha!’ moments in an infographic in Inc. Magazine.”

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CREATIVITY & How Music Affects Your Productivity #LatestResearch

Commentary from Dr. Whitesel: “It depends on the type of task and the type of music, but research shows that listening to music can increase your creativity. Learn the types of music (and the types of tasks) where this is beneficial in this interesting article.”

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CREATIVITY & The Secret To Creativity, Intelligence, And Scientific Thinking

by Belle Beth Cooper, Fast Company, 6/18/14

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FIGURE Knowledge vs Experience


INNOVATION & Early to Late Adopters. Where is Your Church on This Tipping-point #InfoGraph?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This graph illustrates how the tipping-point affects organizations. For example, is your church at the point where multiple venues/sites are tipping the church toward new ideas of multiplication that churches of almost any size can utilize? This graph illustrates that once something like multisite churches are adopted by early-adopters (and then proven in them for validity, reliability and theological integrity) that the church-at-large must embrace these concepts as the new normal. To not embrace them creates a laggard-organization that misses the tipping point (and usually declines). See this helpful bell-curve figure for more insights.”

Strategic principles for competing in the digital age
by McKinsey & Associates, 5/27/14

Tipping Point Graph

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INNOVATION & Being Early Beats Being Better #HarvardBusinessReview.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This research shows that a new idea will usually be more successful because it is first – not necessarily because it is a better. This has two insights for the church. 1) It reminds us that innovation is important for churches to embrace. 2) It also reminds us that innovations may be popular not because they are that great … but because they are first. As Jim Collins pointed out in his book “How the mighty fall,” hubris often affects first-movers. We tend to think our ideas are “better” because they are first. But in reality they may be popular not because they are better, only because they were first. A better product is actually more likely to be an attribute of second-movers. Read this article for more interesting insights about innovation and why we should not let it go to our heads.”

By Henrich R. Greve and Marc-David L. Seidel, Harvard Business Review

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INNOVATION & The 6 Behaviors at Companies Out-Innovating You #InfoGraphic



“CIOs who are focused on IT-driven business innovation tend to have six traits in common, according to new research by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. These CIOs are helping their companies achieve significant business benefits and, in turn, are surging ahead of their competitors.

The HBR research – pulled from surveys of more than 400 business leaders around the world – found that companies pursuing IT-enabled business innovation as a core strategy are fundamentally changing how they engage with customers, launch new products, and more.

To learn more about these six behaviors, download the full report: Business Transformation and the CIO Role.”

Harvard Business Review 6 behaviors of CIOs

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INNOVATION & 3 Ways to Measure Bold Ideas

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Deciding to implement a new idea based upon its financial bottom-line is shown to usually undercut innovation as well as long-term organizational health.”

3 Ways to Measure Success by Ilan Mochari, Inc. Magazine, 4/24/14

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INNOVATION & 5 Ways To Get it Back

5 Ways to Bring Creativity Back to Your Culture

Here are five changes you can make today to bring creativity back to your culture.

Offer Unlimited Vacation

Most managers think vacation policies sound great, on paper. It lets them keep track of how hard people are working and justify why a seat is empty.

To employees, however, vacation policies do just the opposite. They seem to say you don’t don’t trust them to strike a balance, and like a blaring siren, it serves as a reminder of how little they get to travel. On top of that, most companies cap the number of vacation hours employees can accrue, which doesn’t work to their actual benefit.

Offering unlimited vacation won’t make people skip work every Friday or leave people hanging at deadlines. Instead, it will give them control to choose when they decide to work and when they don’t. Although this may seem trivial, being able to choose means everything in a creative culture.

Let Employees Work Remotely

Let’s face it: Your office is not where everyone does their best work, not even you. And while offices are great for building comaradery, they can also be rather distracting.

Working remotely doesn’t always have to mean being in different cities. As Inc. contributor Jason Fried points out, “Remote just means you’re not in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all day long.” His company, 37 Signals, has built an entire culture around people who work from anywhere. His latest book, Remote, will inspire you to think differently about how your own team does its best work.

Ditch the Meetings

The worst part about meetings is that they’re incredibly easy to add. Even if you make an agenda, the number will only go up as you grow in size. As a result, little creative thinking will get done during the day.

You’ll start to notice people takings their evenings and weekends to do their best work, when they know they can dive in without distractions. The 30 or 60 minutes in between meetings won’t allow them to really get things done, so they’ll end up wasting time playing email ping-pong.

Try to cut meetings down to one daily standup. Even if the entire organization has to dial in, it shouldn’t last more than 20 minutes, if it’s done right. This will keep everyone on track and then free them up to use their day as they want.

Nix Department Goals

Department goals often help managers more than employees. Generally, you’ll end up wasting valuable hours setting new goals and then even more time asking why you didn’t hit them.

Worse still, each department relies on resources they don’t control and departments they’re not a part of to reach their goals. This can result in teams signing up for work they were unaware of, which can lead to arguments about whose goals are more important.

Instead, try focusing the entire company around two or three mega goals and enable them to figure out how they accomplish them. This helps everyone be creative while making it clear what they’re in for.

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