Tag Archive: creatives

4 Simple Rules for Working with and Hiring Creatives

I’m privileged to have Darrel Girardier guest blog for me today. Darrel serves Brentwood Baptist Church as the Digital Strategy Director. If you’re like me, you’re not crazy creative, but you work with those who are. And Darrel gets how to bridge the gap. I think today’s post will help you as you consider finding, hiring, and working well with your creatives.


I’ve had the privilege for the last 15 years to work with creative teams in both the corporate and church setting. While each setting is slightly different, there are some rules that I think can be applied to each situation.

If you work with, or are in the process of hiring creative people for church, I’ve outlined four simple rules that help you along in the process. Here they are…

1. Hire creatives who can take the abstract and make it concrete.

I’ve worked with some very talented people. However, what separated the good ones from the great ones was the ability to take what was either technical or abstract, and explain it in a way that anyone could understand what they’re saying.

Now why is this important? If you’re going to manage, evaluate, or coach someone for whose skill-sets you don’t have, you need to have some sense of the scope of their work and what it entails. Often this leads to conversations where you want to be informed, but you don’t need to know all the details.

If you hire the right creative person for your team, they can make the process easier for you. By making the abstract become concrete, they can provide the information you need to make better decisions.

2. Hire creatives who understand the difference between design and art.

It’s easy to become enamored with people who create visually stunning work. Whether it’s videos, logos, or stage design, visual creative work is something that everyone wants to show off. However, the best creatives understand the difference between stunning visuals and stunning visuals that solve a problem.

In other words, you should hire creative people who understand that their challenge when creating a video or design is not to wow you, but instead, solve your problem. These types of creative people will help you move beyond questions like, “What colors or fonts do you like?” to more important questions like, “Who is your primary audience?” and “How do we measure success?”

If you can hire a creative person who instinctively knows to answer those questions first, then you’ve found someone who will be more results driven, which will have a greater impact for your church.

3. When you talk to a creative staff member, talk about your design problem and not the solution.

One of the things you can easily do to frustrate a creative person is to bring them a problem, and then bring them what you think the solution should be. It’s the equivalent of describing a canyon to an engineer and then telling them how to build the bridge.

The more effectively you can describe what you’re trying to accomplish along with the challenges your facing, the higher chance you have of engaging your creative staff. The problem is that most of us come to the creative person with a problem and what we have our idea of what the solution should be (but we can’t do ourselves). This solution-based approach eventually frustrates the creative person and creates a feeling that they’re simply a widget maker.
4. Be wary of confusing roles.

A lot of church leadership staff try to find some mental model so they can categorize how creative people will work with the rest of the (non-creative) staff. Often this leads to using the “client/service” model.

In this model, the ministry is the “client” and the creative person (designer, video producer, etc…) is the service department. You can find this model in most large corporations that have in-house creative departments.

While this model has its advantages, it can lead to de-emphasizing the partnership ministries and creative teams should have, and instead, focuses on simply making the client happy. And yes, creative people do want make ministries happy, but they don’t want to do at the cost of violating basic creative and design principles (Comic sans font anyone?).

To remedy this situation, you need to clarify roles. Not in the sense of who’s in charge, but rather what each party is responsible for. In other words, find a way to let the creative people do what they do best (design, produce, etc.) and still meet the needs of the ministry. This can be a bit of balancing act, however, if you clarify these roles on the front end, the creation process will go much smoother.

As I stated in the beginning, every situation is a bit different. However, most creative people I know want to be respected, trusted and encouraged. If you follow the four rules above, you’ll be one step closer to getting attracting, keeping, and allowing them to feel respected, trusted, and encouraged.

Darrel is effectively collaborating and coaching other church leaders, particularly in the church communications space. Check out his blog and his “Ask Darrel” podcast on iTunes

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