How denominations stifle creativity

CreativityI saw this from a lifehack post entitled How to stifle your creativity in 10 easy steps and I thought, “hmm…I’m seeing this from folks in my denomination and from those in denominational leadership.” So I’m posting a few relevant ones for you.

  1. Always try to fit in. Be much more than a good team player-be the person who never, ever rocks the boat. Whatever seems to be the majority opinion, go with it. People who have ideas of their own can face suspicion or-horror of horrors-criticism and dislike by the majority. Don’t risk being on the wrong side. The minute that it’s clear what the majority (or the most powerful players) want, that’s where your opinions and thoughts must be.
  2. Stick to what you know. Tried and true is what’s right for you. Change and novelty involve risk, and risks can go wrong. If you give in to entertaining innovative thoughts, you may find that what you’ve been doing all these years isn’t as good as you thought. That would upset you and maybe force you to do something risky, like altering your habits or changing your viewpoint. So don’t be rash. Caution must be your watchword at all times. Whatever that new idea is, let it wait a while-say a decade or so-before considering it seriously. You’ll be surprised how many will go away in far less time than that.
  3. Always defer to authority. The people in charge must know what they are doing, or they wouldn’t hold the positions that they do. It would be presumptuous to inject any of your own ideas, when they clearly have all the answers. Rules exist to be obeyed, not challenged. If you always do exactly as you are told, you won’t ever risk disapproval from your betters.
  4. Don’t ask stupid questions. Best of all, don’t ask any questions. They only get people into trouble. Folk who develop the nasty habit of questioning things may upset the status quo, and that simply causes trouble and disruption. Things are as they are. There’s no point wasting time or effort wondering whether they ought to be different in some way. Only dissidents and weirdoes don’t understand that simple fact
  5. Leave thinking to the experts. There’s no point in bothering them with with your pathetic notions or observations. If it was an idea worth having, the experts would already have thought about it. They have all kinds of qualifications and can use long words too. If you think that some change might be needed (and you can’t simply ignore such a disruptive idea), hire expensive, expert consultants to do the thinking. They’ll quickly tell you whatever you want to hear, then add what others are doing, so you can copy them. Best of all, if it goes wrong, you can first of all say that what you did was follow industry best practice (whatever that means); and, if that doesn’t disarm any criticism, you can blame the consultants.

When denominations (or churches or families) do this, they are sure to create proper inbreeding, which in theology and practice, as in marriage, produces mutants. It’s also a good way to get rid of your creative types and ensure conformity. Of course, this will leave the denomination, church, organization, or family with stagnant thought and ideology, but who cares, right?

(HT: PastorHacks)

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Great post…
    I’ve dealt with each of these in my short 2 years with the IMB. I’ve been told…stop asking questions….you don’t understand everything….thats not possible, don’t try it… can’t do it, there’s a policy….
    After you hear this enough you get tired of of hitting your head on the same wall. BTW, I’m not tired of hitting my head yet….I’ll keep going at it until I knock myself out or they kick me out.

    I’m posting this on blog next Thursday….this is a good post.

  • Boy, I think you have described the SBC perfectly. Of course it is also hard to rock the boat when it has already run aground…did I just say that?

Further reading

When is as important as what

When is as important as What

So I finished Daniel Pink’s new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. It was an eye opening book and I have decided to blog...


Recent posts