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.