3 Ways to Cultivate Creative Environments

creative environments

I’m a sucker for a good environment.

Maybe you’re the same way… you’ll pick a place to eat as much for the ambiance as you will for the food. But, of course, the best is when both align to create a killer experience.

Our churches are just the same way. Maybe some churches lean toward good aesthetics. And others lean more toward good “food.” But I believe it’s best when we achieve both.

Those creating the meaningful spaces can enjoy it just as much as those who get to encounter them. @ColeNeSmith Click To Tweet
Over the course of more than a decade cultivating environments for 5 people at a meeting, 1,000 at a worship gathering, or 20,000 at a downtown arts festival, I’ve learned some things about cultivating environments. And maybe those things can be helpful to you too!


And the more you learn to cultivate compelling environments, the more you’ll begin enjoying doing it. I think learning how to create meaningful spaces can be just as enjoyable for those of us creating the spaces as it is for those who get to encounter them. So here are three things I think are really helpful in cultivating more creative environments:

Every component of the environment we create communicates something. @ColeNeSmith Click To Tweet

1. Be Strategic

This starts by asking some important questions. The most basic of which is : “What’s the big idea or main theme?” Every component of the environment we create communicates something. I think the gift of hospitality is exhibited when we are attentive to the details and are intentional about asking, “what does this element communicate?”


Then we can move into more detail about the environment by asking questions like, “What are some emotions we can ascribe to this environment” and even more esoteric questions like, “What colors are appropriate for this space at this time?”

creative environments

2. Communicate Clearly

I love this part because it means making the environment even more creative while lessening the work load on you and I as leaders. If you can communicate the strategic objective of the environment to the other members of your team, it will free them to operate in their roles while maintaining a cohesive vision and foundation.


If you can answer the questions in #1 and communicate the answers to the rest of your team, the lighting designer can do his job, the graphics person can do her job, the mix engineer can choose a pre and post gathering playlist… and even though you haven’t had to watch over their shoulders all the time, there will be an increased sense of cohesion to the environment and experience.

creative environments

3. Go Beyond

Once everyone is operating on the same page because of your strategy and clear communication, there is a new level of freedom. You save time, and people aren’t rushing to get things done and communicate in the flurry of pre-serive insanity. There is a new level of peace in your environment.


As a result, people can go beyond accomplishing the bare minimum. Things go from mediocre to awesome.

creative environments

When people go beyond accomplishing the bare minimum, things go from mediocre to awesome. @ColeNeSmith Click To Tweet

If you start implementing these three practices in your planning, I promise you’ll see a new level of creativity in your gatherings. I have a “Curator’s Tool” that you can print out to help you with all this! It helps you ask questions as you devise your strategy. And you can pass the completed tool right along to your team to help communicate clearly. Included with the “Curator’s Tool” are two additional tools designed to help you Cultivate More Creative Environments. They include :

  • 9 Types of Creative Experiences For Gatherings with an Experience Guide
  • 3 Questions to Ask to Help You Overcome Fear and Say “Yes” to Creative Risk

“9 Types of Creative Experiences For Gatherings with an Experience Guide” tool will help you get out of the rut of doing the same thing over and over again and help you being engaging people in new and meaningful ways. I LOVE helping people discover and value their own creative voice, and that can feel risky sometimes. The “3 Questions to Ask to Help You Overcome Fear and Say “Yes” to Creative Risk” video is designed to help empower you to live your creativity with boldness and faith.

So, click here to get the “Curator’s Tool” download link and the two additional videos and tools!

Looking forward to continuing the journey with you.

About the Author_02

Cole NeSmith
Visual Artist, Pastor, Writer
City Beautiful Church | Orlando, FL

Cole NeSmith is pastor of City Beautiful Church in Orlando, FL. He is a visual artist, writer, speaker, musician, actor, arts advocate and experience curator. He also creates interactive art and experiences through his creative collective, Uncover the Color, an immersive experience company providing interactive creative elements for brands and events. In addition to his life as an artist and entrepreneur, Cole is an arts advocate and actively curates and produces arts events in Orlando and abroad. In 2012, Cole launched the Creative City Project featuring the best of Orlando’s artists and arts organizations creating and performing in downtown Orlando’s public spaces. Cole’s Uncover The Color Podcast.