Brainstorming with your staff can be fun. It can also be an opportunity to handle problems in a creative methodological way. Have you taken time to creatively brainstorm over a challenge you and your church is facing lately?
The basic idea of brainstorming in staff meeting is simple. Gather your staff together and bounce ideas off one another. No idea is, no matter how outlandish, is rejected. Ideas are built upon each other and eventually a preferred solution will begin to emerge. You might want to tweak this as you go on as a staff with the brainstorming idea.
On one staff I lead there was a support secretary that absolutely despised the time it took in staff meetings for this exercise! She was from another country and found that anything besides her assigned work was a waste of time. She never could come to see this as part of her work. Eventually as a result of her lack of alignment, we began dismissing all the clerical staff except for my assistant, who was responsible for taking notes. She was additionally one who contributed to the exercise and her attendance was important more as a contributor of ideas, not as a note-taker!
Try using a brainstorming session under the following situations:
Your staff contains a lot of expertise, and you want to make use of as much of this as possible and prudent.
You want maximum commitment to the ministry solution. You as a leader will be more likely to achieve that with brainstorming because everyone you invite will participate in the problem solving and the solution. Therefore the staff will have ownership in the solution.
You want a really creative solution. You are going to really let your hair down and in a brainstorming session you can! As staff you will listen to all sort of ideas. Some will be pretty strange and unworkable. Press on, the fact that you are willing to listen will dredge up some ideas that are very creative. In fact, most great ideas to handle a challenge usually are the result of such session and rarely form you yourself.
How to Go About Conducting a Brainstorming Session
It sounds much easier to conduct a brainstorming session than it is. The challenge before you as the church revitalizer is to get the maximum ideas you can while not killing any idea too prematurely. Maintaining control among creativity and confusion is not easy. Stoic personalities have a hard time watching such confusion with the accompanying give and take. It appears foreign to work for them. Ideas start coming fast and furiously in effective brainstorming sessions. Having someone who can write on a board fast is helpful in these racetrack type sessions. For the novice church revitalizer it is all a blur. Keeping the ideas on the board in front of the team enables members to look for the second right idea, which is often just a little off center and usually the one that answers the challenge before you. Try these guidelines for starters until you develop your own:
Introduce the problem to be solved.
State any limitations or conditions to the brainstorming challenge.
Answer any and all questions before ideas are offered.
Write every idea suggested on the board so everyone can see it.
Encourage new ideas and then building on ideas that have already been given.
Do not allow member’s to criticize any idea suggested.
Focus on how to make stupid ideas work rather than why it won’t work.
Wait until the staff runs out of ideas before examining the ideas suggested for practicability.
Entertain new ideas at anytime.
Keep main points on the black board.
Continue to answer questions that staff may have.
As the brainstorming process slows begin working on a few solutions that appear most promising.
Seek to focus on the One Great Idea until it is fleshed out.
Make sure that every member of the staff is aware of your appreciation for their participation.
Remember you are still the church revitalization leader. Even though the group came to a consensus solution to the problem, it is still your decision as to whether or not you adopt that solution. This does not in any way detract from the fact that your staff made important contributions to your understanding of the challenge.
When you have completed your brainstorming session, do not forget to act on what you have decided to do and the course of action you desire to take.