Note: This is an excerpt from Taking Flight with Creativity: Worship Design Teams That Work, the new book on worship design teams from Len Wilson and Jason Moore. While designing worship in a group is no longer a new concept in many circles, figuring out how to make them work is a greater challenge. Our goal is to look at some specific principles that will help your worship design teams function at a high, sustained level.
How Many Cooks in the Kitchen, it is important to keep brainstorming groups at a relatively small size. Studies have shown that the most effective brainstorming groups consist of around 4 to 7 people. Any more than that and it’s hard to narrow down ideas and form consensus. Any less and it’s hard to have enough minds focused to generate good ideas.
2. Even the playing field
The best creative groups find a way to check hierarchical structure, and ego, at the door. No one wants to look bad in the eyes of their superiors, and brainstorming (from an ego standpoint) can be pretty risky. Creativity flows much easier when each member feels the same amount of authority to express and give input on ideas being discussed. The “flatter” the team feels organizationally, the better the brainstorming will be.
It may not be possible to organize staff positions in such a way that everyone is “flat” outside the meeting, but position and supervisory issues should be deemphasized during the brainstorming meeting.
For example, the senior pastor may choose to intentionally charge someone else with managing the meeting, and simply operate as one of the creative voices in the room.
3. Keep the group closed
As stated, brainstorming can be risky business that encourages team members to expose their ideas, and themselves, to both praise and honest criticism. In our experience, the best balm for criticism is trust. A closed team ?Ãƒâ€žÃƒÂ¬ the same exact group of people, meeting together regularly ?Ãƒâ€žÃƒÂ¬ can build up enough trust and small group intimacy to allow honest critique to thrive without bruising egos too badly.
Once a closed group has learned to brainstorm together, a level of comfort begins to set in that makes the creative process second nature. When this point is reached, each team member will feel that the others in the room “have their back” and can begin to name ideas that would have otherwise remained unspoken inner thoughts.
Groups with creative honesty, if achieved, need to be protected with the utmost care. Adding just one new person to the group can change the dynamics in such a way that it makes brainstorming labored or even impossible.
This may seem like a dramatic statement. Yet one new person brings to the group a lack of understanding of current team dynamics, a lack of a shared team history, and (most importantly) a lack of trust and relationship that exists between all others on the team. The result is a dramatic loss of team intimacy. This makes it hard for not only the “outsider” who will likely feel uncomfortable sharing ideas, but it also makes the more established team members guarded with their ideas. Established members may want to avoid inadvertently offending or “looking stupid” in front of the new member when sharing what may seem to be far-fetched ideas. And anything that slows down the transmission of ideas is a bad thing that leads to missed creative opportunities.