Are you creative? The fact that you are involved in ministry tells me you are. Maybe you are a creative speaker, a curriculum developer or a worship leader. No matter what role you play there are times you have to get creative. The problem is sometimes we get stuck in our creative process. So what do we do, we try to find a way to get out of that rut. You might try exercising while you think, perhaps it is writing until an idea starts to flow.

In my church I am the go to guy when it comes to youth ministry, its just me and our volunteers. Because of this it means that I have to do everything my volunteers can’t help me with which means using a lot of my creative brain. The problem is lately I have been stuck in a bit of a creative rut so I decided to try to break out of it.

I have tried a lot of different techniques; from writing with the wrong hand to running while thinking through problems; with not much to help this time. So I decided to go out of what I have read and just do what felt natural. I started by getting some good tunes going and pushing aside my laptop. (Typically when I plan I use a laptop and a whiteboard). I grabbed a pad of paper, a calendar, a sharpie and results from a recent parent questionnaire I sent out. I pushed my chair to the side and started to get moving. (Throwing a ball against the wall and pacing back and forth).

Suddenly it started to happen; questions and ideas began to flow and I started writing anything that came to mind.:

  • What are we doing right?
  • What good things can we expand on?
  • Are there one or more sacred cows that need to be put to rest this year?
  • What would changing our format look like?
  • Who are some possible new leaders in our church?

As I started thinking about these things and my proposed calendar ideas started blowing up for programming, events, volunteer opportunities, parent seminars we could run. Every time I had an idea I wrote it down or printed off something to do with it.(I did use my laptop a little, but no Facebook or Twitter in between).

Now I have an office that looks like I am the guy from a Beautiful Mind; either that or people will think I’m crazy.

So I want to encourage you; if you are starting your new year in a rut; try something a little different that still feels natural. Chances are if you have been spending some time with God before hand and are truly seeking him, the ideas will start to flow. This is just what worked for me. Give it a try; if it works for you great; if not find something natural and go with it.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: or Twitter: @CorbinKyle.

rut [ruht] – noun
a narrow or predictable way of life, set of attitudes, etc; dreary or undeviating routine

There have been many days, recently, where I have found myself staring at my office walls thinking, “I wonder how many youth workers find themselves in a rut. How often does this occur (for most)? How do they avoid it? How do they get out of it?”

I imagine most of us didn’t get into youth ministry for the promise of a narrow, predictable, dreary, or undeviating experience. And, like the women’s restroom I accidentally walked into the other day, we want nothing more than to get out of this position.

What I am discovering is that sometimes the best way to get out of a rut is to revisit what got me excited about youth ministry in the first place.

Here are a few of my rut busters…

1) Get with students: As our ministry grows and we focus on forming relationships between students and leaders, unfortunately, I feel less and less connected. This is difficult. I need to pray and look for my own opportunities to connect. The other day one of my former students came to me and said, “Hey, do you think we could get together and study a book in the Bible?” I wanted to jump out of my skin! Heck, yes, I do! It gets even better. Then he said, “Oh yeah, and do you still want to come to one of my football games? I’ll get you a schedule.” Is that the Hallelujah Chorus I hear? I’m there! If only all of my students showed that kind of initiative.

2) Get with Jesus: In the first 11 verses of John 15, Jesus uses the word “remain” 11 times. I know that the best version of me is found in Him; it’s just a matter of getting there.

3) Get in community: Ever since the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, I always wanted to be a part of a great team. My best times in youth ministry are when I am sharing life with a team of people, focused and committed to a common goal. My loneliest and most monotonous times are when everything in our ministry comes from the idea bank of me.

4) Get creative: We serve such a creative God. When I accepted the call to communicate God’s love to students, I longed to reflect even a fraction of that creativity. In a rut, creativity is one of the first things to go. I need to allow myself the time and space to get creative.

What about you? What have you found to be your greatest rut busters?

Bryce Gernand is the Middle School Pastor at Jackson First Church of the Nazarene in Jackson, MI where he has served for eight years.