Sustained innovation doesn’t happen by accident in an organization. Unfortunately, I have encountered more than a few people for whom the phrase innovative congregations/churches was an oxymoron. For many in the mainline the phrase is one that doesn’t connect to current or prior experiences in church life.
While a younger congregation (one established more recently) is more likely to be innovative because of where it is within the organizational life cycle, churches of all ages (as well as all sizes) can be or become innovative. The shift from a culture that values consistency and rarely takes risks to one that is open to and invites change is significant. It must begin with senior leadership, but must move beyond formal decision making bodies to become a part of the congregation’s DNA.
Innovative congregations welcome innovation by funding innovation initiatives in the operating budget, including innovation in job descriptions (sometimes going so far as to allocate a specific percentage of time that should be allocated to such), and regularly celebrating both successes and failures that result from the ongoing emphasis on innovation.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how innovative is your church?
- Over the last 15 years (or however long you know about your church’s history), has your church become more or less innovative?
- What one change do you feel would be most helpful in moving your church toward a culture of sustained innovation (or if you feel your congregation already embodies such, what one change do you feel would be most helpful to strengthen it)?