It has been really encouraging to hear that people are using the creative ideas we are posting on this site. But what about making your own creative worship - where can you get original ideas, and how can you shape them to connect with your congregation in safe yet challenging ways? We are going to explore some principles for putting together your own creative worship, starting this month with a foundational value - team.

It is not good for us to be alone...
Working with a bunch of other people is far and away the most productive thing you can do to be creative in church. So many services are planned by a bunch of desperate individuals staring pleadingly at computer screens for inspiration, and then on Sunday the various elements being bolted together by someone saying 'and now we're going to move into a time of...' with very little else but God's grace bringing some sense of cohesion. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS!

There are different levels of teamwork - firstly working together with the existing service team: preacher, leader, worship leader, etc. This is best done face-to-face; it can work on the phone; email should be a last resort. Communication between these roles means your creative worship will flow as part of the journey of the service, not feel like a bolt-on idea. If you respect your leadership and respond to the other things going on in the service, you are far more likely to honour God and the congregation with your ideas.

The second level is forming a specific creative team to collaborate on innovative forms of worship (still in consultation with the first team) - people who are gifted and passionate about connecting people with God in new forms. Look around your church, who could you ask to be on a team like that - artists, teachers, flower arrangers, techie people, liturgy writers, graffiti artists, film-makers, musicians...? This team should be fun - a creative team I ran at our old church was always a place of laughter, food and informality - but this means you need to invest in spending time together which is not just 'planning the next service'.

It's good to talk
The benefit of teamwork on both levels is that often the best creativity comes in conversation. Dialogue will take a rough idea, a half-thought, a hair brained scheme, and shape into something brilliant. This doesn't mean 'creative worship by committee' - it is important that teams allow people to go off and graft at an idea on their own at some stage in the process. And good leadership is vital, to avoid conversations wandering aimlessly, or an opinionated person shipwrecking a perfectly good idea.

Planning stuff as a team gives a sense of joint ownership - 'we're in this together', which means when you try the idea in a service at least a few people will be rooting for it to succeed! It also means potential pitfalls can be noticed early - confusing parts simplified, unpractical ideas made accessible, theological issues wrestled through. After you have used something, it is really important to de-brief an idea together as a team. Start with encouragement - what was good, what worked, what was God doing through it? And then don't be afraid to add gentle and encouraging critique - were there lessons you could learn about the logistics, presentation or theology of the idea which you can apply next time?

It is worth remembering that God is one and yet three - unity and diversity, one being yet three persons, working in creative harmony. In the Bible we see God putting together creative teams of skilled, anointed people (Exodus 35:30-36:1, 1 Chron 25). And Jesus himself put together a team to lead his movement of people who worship 'in spirit and truth' - twelve bumbling disciples who went on to change the world. We've written more about Jesus' team building in our book, so check it out if you haven't already.