Creative Leadership


By Ryan Schaible 

When was the last time you watched the movie Apollo 13?

If you answered something like “Never” or “It’s been a long time” – you are welcome (nay, required) to stop reading this blog to go and watch it, but please do come back.

Seriously…I’ll wait…

Still with me? Cool.


There is an important scene in Apollo 13 – one that I’ve used often when training ministry leaders. A team of NASA engineers need to find a way to build a new oxygen filter for the spacecraft, using only parts available to the astronauts while they are hurling through space. The engineers are almost literally tasked with finding a way to fit a square peg into a round hole.

This is a perfect illustration of CREATIVE LEADERSHIP.

Ministry leadership requires the continual development of so many different skills, but too often the importance of CREATIVITY becomes under-developed or (in some cases) neglected all together. When I talk about creativity, I don’t mean your ability to design a cool ministry logo or having to write a new hit worship song… CREATIVE LEADERSHIP is about finding new ways to do things no one else is doing, to see new things no one else is seeing, even when the resources seem slim.

Creativity can be defined as simply the use of imagination and originality. YOU have creativity right now; you just might be overlooking it (in yourself or in your team).

If tomorrow I could double your ministry budget (or in some cases just GIVE you a budget to start with), what is the first thing you would start doing? What if I quadrupled your budget?

We all have that mental list of things we want to do in and through our ministry, but we just can’t do it because the resources just aren’t there. We want to build or fix up a facility, buy better equipment, fund new programs, or finally fix that carpet stain in the sanctuary from that Middle School Ministry game three years ago that went horribly, horribly wrong.

But we can’t fix the problems because we don’t have the resources, right? So we make excuses, dance around the problems, or pass the blame…and our ministry is hindered in the process. Not hindered by a lack of resources, but by our own lack of creativity.

It is time for more CREATIVE leadership. What CAN you do with the resources you DO have available? Remember that resources do not just equal dollars. Where are the PEOPLE you can turn to? What SITUATIONS or EVENTS can you get a foot in the door? What NEW OPPORTUNITY is right around the corner?

When we are leading from a healthy place emotionally and spiritually, the problems we see in ministry do genuinely come from a good place. Perhaps we want a better facility because we want to provide a safe and fun place for people to gather, or we want equipment to make or teaching more engaging and effective so more people can clearly hear the good news of Jesus! Check your heart – your motivations are not bad. What might be missing is a little bit of CREATIVITY. What new thing can you do right now to make your ministry stronger? What haven’t you tried? What is no one else in your community doing? Get creative and start seeing things with new eyes. Set a new exciting vision.

A good, exciting, and creative ministry vision doesn’t cost a dime.

Yes, a life of ministry means sometimes you wake up feeling like you are trying, day after day, to fit a square peg into a round hole. You’re not gaining any ground – you’re like a hamster running on a wheel. Pick your metaphor…but perhaps what the world needs, what the Kingdom of God needs, are more people willing to find ways to fit that mismatched peg. Scripture is filled with countless stories of people who did CRAZY things (have you read the prophets?) because they were all-in when it came to following God, and they weren’t concerned about facilities, or budgets, or equipment.

The needs of ministry are real. The resources will always seem lacking. Find new opportunities, set a new vision, and get creative.