Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Innovation and the church

There has always been a tension between innovation and the church. Tradition has long been seen as a necessary element so much so in many churches that it is part of the church’s doctrine. Change anything and you’ll find reactions varying from discomfort to downright anger. Many pastors are afraid to change or do anything different so as not to make anyone mad and cause them to leave the church. Therefore innovation in the church becomes very difficult and often at a high price. Because of the church’s culture of orthodoxy the church finds itself left behind in almost every area of ministry from missions to communication.
Grace Point is unique in that innovation and change are accepted and even embraced. Part of the reason is that those attending are new believers or Christians who want a different, more relevant way of reaching people for Christ. We realize God’s word is unchangeable but how we communicate and minister must be dynamic. Even how we see the mission of the church is a radical departure from many churches. *
In the coming weeks I would like to present some innovative ways our members are “being the church” in their community. And I hope that you will send me creative ideas of how you are reaching and ministering to your community also so I can share and inspire others. My desire is not to use this as an intellectual exercise, but for you to grab on to one of the ideas or allow the creative ministries to motivate you to reach out to a world that desperately needs Christ.
Innovative ministry: PAWS FOR SERVICE
J.C. and Cathy Smith minister with their golden retriever, Meg to the elderly in nursing homes and hospices through a ministry called Paws For Service. J.C. said he was recently contacted to visit a patient at the Alta Vista Nursing Home, “my visit was short because the patient wasn’t feeling well. However, while in the facility, I was surrounded by other patients and staff members. Meg was petted by more than a dozen residents and staff. The administrator asked how to get in contact with someone to request regular facility visits“. What a great way to brighten someone’s life and a great way to open the door to sharing Christ.
If you have a dog that you think would be trainable, Paws will train you and your dog so that you can bring some joy and Christ into the world to the elderly and sick. Paws for Service will be having a training class for K-9's and their "chauffeurs" (owners) early next year. If you are interested, please contact J.C. at
*The church of the future must become what we call “incarnational” in the way it does ministry. Incarnational means that all of our members are called and view themselves as missionaries to their community and world. The local church is not a building or denomination but a body of believers living out the Word, with the power of the Holy Spirit (incarnation) sharing their faith, caring for and being involved in the lives of their neighbors and changing their community. We live, work, study and interact with others as a witness for Jesus Christ. Our focus is not “to come to church” but we encourage our members “to be the church.” This is really a return to the first century church in purpose. But the way we communicate and reach the world can be as modern and innovative as possible. There should be few limits and boundaries. The goal is to reach our world for Christ and that means using whatever tools are available in our world today.

Good advice from a strange source

I heard some insightful wisdom last night while watching the Blue Man Group on a PBS fund raising special. They are the entertainers with the blue painted faces. I’ve seen their incredibly creative and off-the-wall show in person and tremendously enjoyed it. What they do is so simple, unique, weird, and hysterically funny that their show is sold out in Las Vegas and around the world. In an interview on PBS one of the team members said the secret to their success was to get over themselves. In other words he said they had to completely put out of their mind what others thought about them personally. They found that they could not be as silly or as creative as they needed to be as long as they were concerned with what people were thinking about them. If they were to be successful, they could not be pre-occupied with themselves. This freed them to be very creative and to get out of the box and be successful.
This is wise advice that if we all followed in so many areas of our life we would be freed up to be “Fully Alive”. Another way of saying it is to “die to self”. If we were not so preoccupied with self and worried about what people thought we could lead so much more effectively. Dying to self would even help with recruiting our team members. One reason we don’t have enough people on our teams is because we just fail to ask enough people to join us. We think announcements in worship and Bible study will do the trick. But the most effective way to recruit is to ask.
Why don’t we ask people to volunteer more? For myself I find that it is often a fear of rejection or some deep seated concern with what people think about me. However, when I die to self, then Christ takes over and much like The Blue Man Group, I am freed up to do what I’m called to do. Get over yourself as the Blue Man Group spokesman says. Great advice! Die to self. It will make an incredible difference is so many areas of your life and actually help you lead much more effectively.

Just inspire me!

Just inspire me!
This statement by Bill Hybels in his closing remarks at Leadership Summit drove home the point that people are motivated to action when they are inspired. As leader and Point Person, you’ll have a much better chance at recruiting a volunteer to join your team if you inspire them.

Inspire them with the need. Give your potential volunteers a clear and compelling purpose for joining your team. Sometimes we downplay the significance of our ministry area. Such as, “I’m just a greeter” or I just help in the office”. But each area of the church is critical for the overall work of the Kingdom. A smile and warm welcome from a greeter may be the key to a first-time visitor returning to church and making a commitment to follow Christ. As a leader you must paint the bigger picture to inspire and motivate your volunteers.

Inspire them with the solution. Show the potential volunteer how your team is making a difference in the lives of others. We know the task is great but here is how we are solving the problem. Tell testimonies and stories how your team members are personally helping transform lives through your ministry team. Email testimonials to prospective volunteers, especially new members looking for a place of service. Few things inspire others more than stories! Example: for some inspiration go to

Inspire them with how they fit in. Volunteers want to know that they are needed and that they won’t be just another body on a team. Paint a significant picture of what they will be doing, the time that is involved and how they personally will help the team accomplish the goal. Don’t soft petal the job. Once they join the team, be sure not to be a ball hog. Give the ministry away and allow your team members ownership of the ministry. This entails involving them with planning and executing.

Inspire yourself. Bill Hybels reminded all of us that you can’t inspire others unless you are inspired. No one enjoys being around a negative, joyless person. A leader must live with inspiration that overflows to others. Purpose to hang around others who are inspirational. Listen to inspirational messages. Read books that inspire and excite you about ministry. If you do, you’ll find yourself communicating with joy and excitement about ministry. After all, serving God is the most exciting and challenging thing we can do. Even something as simple as cutting up animals for a children’s craft can be an exciting ministry activity that will make a difference in a child’s life or it can be a humdrum and boring task. It is really up to you. Keeping focus of the goal, the bigger picture helps us maintain our joy. Our core value of Encouragement, Choose joy…Give joy is the essence of leading well.
Choose joy and inspire people!

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