After beginning my series of posts on the Ten Faces of Innovation (based on Tom Kelley’s book of the same name), I wondered if perhaps people might wonder if "innovation" is something churches should be doing in the first place. So let me explain what I don’t mean and what I do mean.
A quote from C.S. Lewis that has often restrained me in some of my "Let’s blow the whole thing up and start from scratch" moods goes something like this:
"Jesus told us to feed his sheep, not do experiments on his lab rats."
Touche, Clive. Novelty for novelty’s sake doesn’t really have any place in the regular life of the church, I don’t think. We don’t want to simply be experimenting on people, introducing innovation every few weeks just to see what happens. People will eventually grow tired of it, because they will feel they aren’t being cared for (and they would probaby be right).
The church needs to care for those already in her fold (I would see pastoral and teaching gifts functioning this way), but the church also needs to be engaged in mission to the world (I see apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic gifts functioning here). We can’t hunker down in our fox hole and wait for the explosions to stop, we can’t stay within the walls of our self-imposed Christian ghetto. The church exists for the good of the world, she "exists by mission as a fire exists by burning" (Elton Trueblood).
It’s in this area of mission that I think innovation and wildly creative thinking are necessary. Because of the radical changes we’re seeing in our world, we can’t just do a "tent meeting" and think it’s going to have the same kind of effectiveness as it did fifty years ago. I don’t even think we can start a hip evening service and expect it to have the same effectiveness it did five years ago. We have to be thinking creatively to be able to dream up, plan and execute innovative mission projects in the postmodern world.
So that’s why looking at the Ten Faces of Innovation will be a helpful exercise, methinks.
RC of strangeculture says
interesting post…this is really something i feel like i’m struggling through.
i love my church, but it’s becomming harder and harder for me be a part of it b/c in someways it’s combination of vision and lack of vision are wearing me out and my role in the big picture and purpose seem further and further from where they’ve ever been before.
all that to say…i like the ideas of rethinking church and my church (like many many) have been redoing that, but even in effort to remain program free I’m starting to feeli relationshiped out.
And I guess as I struggle through these issues I ask…”WHAT IS THE GOAL>>>WHAT SHOULD I DO??? & WHAT DO I NEED TO GET OUT OF CHURCH TOO???”
It’s all been a little bit “hum”-making recently.
Anyways, i don’t know why i’m writing all this when it really only slightly triggered the thought in the first place.
Peace to you, and keep up the great blog.
–RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com
I have been thinking about this in churches we have attended and visited since moving out to California. Whether we visit or stay for awhile, they seem to be just as busy trying to stay up with the culture.
What’s on TV right now? Let’s tie it into the sermon. What’s the cool new outdoor activity right now? Let’s drive/ride one through the santuary to get everyone’s attention.
Some of this of course I understand, and I don’t want to go to a church that is totally out of it – but they seem to be spending ALL of their energy trying to keep up with secular culture. The pastor tries to dress like the guys at the skatepark. The music tries to mimic the christian radio that is mimicing secular radio. What if we became the innovators ourselves?
What if every worship leader wrote their own music? What if we wrote the books, painted the pictures, filmed the movies, and just really dug inside ourselves for the inspiration to create new things, instead of always mimicing what’s out there in order to draw new people?
I guess I feel like once a church gets us “in” then the leadership is always looking over our head to see who’s behind us, and putting on the tap dance to get them to join in too. If they just would be who they really are, and loved the people that were around them, and who they came in contact with – forged relationships, instead of asking us to turn around and start tap dancing with them – I think this generation would see what they want to see. Not a service that feels like a half hour on MTV, but a genuine expression of faith.
There are so many untapped gifts I see in people in the church. If everyone used their gifts with the same thoughfulness and intensity that they do when sit down at work to accomplish something – what amazing things could the church accomplish? What kind of movements in the arts, what kind of mission projects, what kind of dent could we make in the fight to stop the spread AIDS?
These are just my ramblings and some brief examples. But I find myself here amoung literally thousands of churches, and really hungry for a place that will get it’s act together and do what I’m mentioning above. I don’t want to do a “bible study” on Da Vinci Code, I want to create artistic things within the church, and get out and help our community.
Amen, Kris. It does often feel as though it’s a tap dance to simply attract more people, and then the purpose of those who have recently been attracted is simply to tap dance to attract more people, so they can learn to tap dance and attract more people. When do we get around to “doing the stuff” as John Wimber used to say?
Seems like there would be a church community somewhere out in your direction that is doing the stuff. If not, maybe you guys should plant a church 😉
One other thought: I completely agree with your observation, Kris, that church leaders spend an incredible amount of time trying to copy what they see in the world, so that we’re constantly reacting to cultural trends instead of shaping and producing them ourselves.
I think it’s a travesty that Christianity has a reputation for creating cheap knock-offs of actual art, instead of being on the cutting edge of art (and science and mathmatics and history and sociology, for that matter).