Innovation and the Church

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Elon Musk is best known for 3 big companies: Tesla, PayPal and SpaceX. But he actually owns 5 other companies. One of my favorites is The Boring Company founded in 2016 to alleviate traffic congestion. My favorite part of their mission statement is: “…create safe, fast-to-dig, and low cost transportation, utility, and freight tunnels.”

They are attempting to solve a problem by doing the same thing but in a new innovative way. This resonates with me because I drive a stretch of I-10 from Phoenix to Casa Grande often and experience the frustration of traffic congestion too frequently.

The Way I See It. Innovation, or the introduction of new methods, is needed in established churches. Without it, the local church will miss out on gospel engagement opportunities and eventually die. Here are three ideas about innovation.

Innovation involves creating something brand new. Churches are notorious for copying each other. We hear about something that is working in one church and we copy the same idea hoping for the same results. What would it look like if your church identified a gospel need around you and started thinking “outside the box” about how you could meet that need? What if you asked your church to do something no other church in your area has ever done before? Innovation is trying new things.

Innovation involves doing the same thing in a new way. One church I served tried doing Vacation Bible School three different ways in three consecutive years. Why? We were trying to figure out which method worked best within our local context to reach the most unchurched kids. Maybe you can think of a ministry or program that has plateaued and needs a reboot. 

Innovation is Biblical. How many times did God ask His people to do something new? Peter’s vision and his God appointed encounter with Cornelius in Acts 10 is just one example. The Holy Spirit guided the early apostles to do things that had never been done before. Innovation isn’t just for businesses. In fact, wouldn’t it shake things up if God’s people were the trend setters for innovation instead of being late adopters?

What if you set aside time with your church leaders to brainstorm where God may be leading you in innovative ways. I know change can be a death wish for the pastor in certain church culture settings. But if we don’t keep asking what’s next, the alternative is a slow but certain death. Just ask Blockbuster Video.

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