It Only Takes a Spark
Every week there’s a Sunday. It’s guaranteed. But what we can’t guarantee is that you’ll have a spark of inspiration every week. So how do you keep your messages fresh week after week without running dry in the inspiration well?
Fresh inspiration gives you the fuel to make your message matter to people each week. Let me give you some tips on how to keep the sparks flying.
1. Have a Team Ready
Teamwork is so essential to being a consistently masterful message maker. When you’re a lone wolf, the weight of the world falls on your shoulders. But when you’ve got a team around you – people who love to research deep texts, who love to flow creatively, and who love to give great feedback – you can lean on them as a continual pool of inspiration.
The fact is we can’t all be inspired every day or every week. But when you have a team around you, chances are someone will have a good idea that will spark inspiration for you.
2. Keep a Notebook Handy
When I was fresh out of college I went to work at a church with one of my friends. He kept a little 2” by 3” notebook in his back pocket at all times. I asked him about it one day after I saw him take it out and scribble down some notes. He told me that he picked it up from a mentor of his to always have a notebook handy because you never know when inspiration will strike.
When you get that spark of inspiration, don’t wait – write it down! And you don’t need a little notebook anymore. Apple has so graciously provided plenty of ways to do that with our iPhones (or whatever smart phone you have). Whether you use the factory installed notes app or some other app, like Evernote, use it like you would a notebook. There are even some apps that take dictation so no typing on a small screen needed.
Even if you have a notebook handy, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the spark. You have to keep your eyes peeled for when inspiration is ready to strike. It could be while you’re in a meeting, running errands, or playing with your kids at home. If you take thirty seconds to write it down right then – or type it out, or record it – you won’t go looking for it later in the sea of thoughts that swirl through your mind daily.
3. Give Yourself a Break
Feeling drained by the day? Go outside and get some fresh air. Turn off you phone for an hour. Shut down you email and disconnect. Taking a walk around the neighborhood will do wonders for helping you find new energy and inspiration.
Another way to take a break is by scheduling regular intervals when you don’t speak on a Sunday. Make a yearly calendar and find five, six, ten, or more weeks where you aren’t the main communicator. You don’t have to take the week off and go on vacation. In fact, if you’re the lead Pastor of the church this is a great way to check in on other areas of ministry to see how well they’re doing.
4. Take a Dip in the File Cabinet
If you’ve been speaking regularly for a while I’m sure you’ve built up a reservoir of great messages. Don’t be afraid to take a dip into your past material. I know what you’re thinking, “Sister Ethel is bound to remember when we did this ten years ago.” And that’s true. But for every member who remembers, there are twenty who have forgotten. And those who do remember may need a good reminding.
When you find a good message from the past, use that same spark you got years ago to reignite some passion today. Maybe you’ll be inspired to go down a different track than you did before. Or maybe you can repackage the message with fresh illustrations. This is why keeping your notes as detailed as possible is so important. If your notes only consist of three lines and scripture reference, it will be hard to figure out where the inspiration came from years ago. But holding onto all your research notes will give you an idea of the path you were on and what you can do different next time.
One final word for those who feel like the spark of inspiration is going dim: Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re a great communicator, so just go and communicate. If you ever feel like sparkless, just go back to what you know – the mission and vision of your church. That was the original spark that got you going in the first place. And if you’re church is still alive then that spark is still glowing.