by Rev. James Wong
I shared that the final “C” of leadership is culture and together we need to build a church culture that is biblical and progressive using the acronym S.E.R.V.I.C.E. I have covered these: S=Serving Heart, E=Empower Others and R=Result Oriented, V=Value Teamwork, .For this week I would like to focus on “I” which means, ‘Innovate for Growth’.
I = Innovate for Growth. What does it mean?
The word innovation means a new way of doing something or "new stuff that is made useful". It refers to positive changes that is taking place in thinking, products, processes, organizations or church. Creativity always goes with innovation. To have a culture to innovate for growth is to find new effective ways to do things to reach people for Christ. We cannot talk about growth without talking about increasing in numbers. Quality must produce quantity. Maturity must bear fruits. Faithfulness must result in fruitfulness.
Innovations in the consumer world
The consumer world is driven by innovations. The new products we see in the market place today are better than those of yesterdays. Take for example a notebook computer. The new computer that you buy today will be replaced by another newer and more efficient model in six months time to meet the needs and demands of the consumers. Innovative methods must be found to deliver the desired results. “Innovate or perish” is one of the key principles to stay alive and competitive in the marketplace. While the fundamental principle of meeting the needs of the consumers will not change, the methods of meeting those needs must keep on changing in order to be relevant and effective. Steve Jobs, who has been listed as either primary inventor or con-inventor in over 230 awarded patents, the CEO of Apple, best known for his paradigm-shifting products such as the iPad and the iPhone says this: “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Innovation in the workplace
One of the innovative methods taking place in the workplace is in the police force. Datuk Sri Idris Jala, the Minister in the PM Department, citing as an example of innovation at work, said: “The police have successfully lowered the street crime rate by 38% this year after the Government implemented an incentive giving RM500 each for everyone stationed at the best-performing police station.” (www.thestar.my Nov 4, 2010). Innovation in the workplace is the ability to come up with a creative and effective way to arrive at the desire result. Just following the conventional way to curb crime has proven non effective. Without new innovative ideas, there will be no new result. It has often been quoted that insanity is: “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” In fact, the easiest thing to do is to follow a set of regulations in a work place without much mental thinking. Thinking is the hardest job and most stressful.
Churches choose death over innovation
Innovation is quite a neglected aspect in the church. Any church that is effective in reaching a particular age group of people has employed a method that is relevant and creative. The goal of the church is to reach people for Christ. In the book 11 Innovations in the Local Church by Elmer Towns, Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird say this:
“Most churches need to change because they’re showing little or no statistical growth (numerical, spiritual or otherwise) and minimal impact on the surrounding culture. Too many are struggling just to keep their doors open, and yet they tend to keep replaying what they did “last year.”
American churches have the money and resources to seek new and alternate ways to revitalize their lethargic outreach. Yet instead of looking for a breakthrough, churches across the country are slowly dying because too many tend to value tradition over expanding God’s reach.
Innovation or death? Too many churches choose death over innovation. The choice we make today will impact the church of our children.”
We need to rethink, unlearn, learn and relearn and learn fast what works and what don’t work in the church context. We need to be creative in thinking and innovative in our actions to achieve our goals of reaching others for Jesus Christ, lest we become ineffective in the ministries of the church.
God is an innovative creator
Just look at the diversity of the natural world. If we want to be like God, we must value and enjoy diversity and creativity. Let us look at the following according to a report, and it tells us a lot about God’s nature. His creativity is beyond our imagination.
* There are at least 350,000 species of beetles.
* More than 230,000 species of flowers and flowering plants.
* 4,629 species of mammals.
* There are more than 6,000,000,000 different faces and DNA on earth.
* There are no two leaves with similar pattern.
Innovation in the church
Innovation begins with asking the questions concerning the purposes of the church. (1) In the area of worship, how can we make all our services more inspiring and meaningful to the different age groups? (2) In the areas of ministry, how can we improve the effectiveness of all our ministries? (3) In evangelism, how can we be more creative and effective in inviting our friends to Church? (4) In fellowship, how can we be more loving, caring and build meaningful relationships with each other? (5) In discipleship, how can we motivate and inspire each other in our daily walk with God? Change is the issue! We will look at this next week.