Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creativity In Crisis

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Early in my youth pastoring career, while ministering at a three-year-old church plant in South Florida, we took our high school students on our annual snow-skiing trip to Western North Carolina. This was our third excursion to the mountains, and our students and leaders were excited.

For those of you who have done this, finding snow in January in the mountains of Western North Carolina, or even finding weather cold enough to produce artificial snow, is a risky business. But we forged northward with hearts full of faith and suitcases full of cold-weather clothing.

When we arrived at our destination after traveling by bus overnight, we found ourselves standing in a parking lot in shorts and t-shirts, looking out at the brown-covered mountains. An unexpected warm front had passed through, and it was 52 degrees at 8:00 am.

Needless to say, we were a bit disappointed. We had traveled almost 750 miles to go snow-skiing, and there was no snow!

Needing alternative plans for 45 not-to-happy high school students, I gathered my leaders and we began to brainstorm. One of our leaders said, "Let's pray for creativity." Another remarked, "And let's pray for protection from the kids!" Well we asked for creativity, and as we continued to discuss alternatives, our bus driver mentioned that there was a professional hockey arena about 20 miles away where a local minor league team trained and held their games.

I found a pay phone and a phone book (it was 1985), and was able to connect with the manager. I explained our situation, and after some haggling, he said we could use the facility for four hours that afternoon. The only caveat: No skate rental, no snack bar, and no music for "couples skate".

We agreed on the offer and took the students to a beautiful, well-maintained facility where we skated in our tennis shoes (what a sight), located a boom-box for our cassette tapes (it was 1985), and even scrounged up a puck for a game (loosely used term) of ice hockey.

The sight of 45+ people slipping all over the ice, swatting a puck with their gloved hands, and doing the score! dance when a point was made was priceless.

And the best memory of the trip was not that the snow was a no-show, but that we played hockey!

Here are a few things I learned in that experience:
  • Allow crisis (or plans falling through) to incite creativity. You'll be surprised how creative you can be when needed.
  • Be creative within the creativity. Once you have an idea, find ways to enhance it by asking What if?, and Why not?
  • Don't be discouraged when your plans don't work out. Sometimes creativity in crisis becomes better than the original plan.
Question: When have you needed to exercise Creativity in Crisis: Share your thoughts below in comments.
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