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September 20, 2007


Mike Fortune

I think it's important for people to know that God's character never changes, but that the methods that convey that character constantly do. And that was always God's intent. From Creation, the spark of innovation, to Acts and beyond. There so much misunderstanding of those texts that say God never changes.

The second thing I'd like people to know about innovation is that it comes from the Holy Spirit and prayer not church growth strategies. If we'd simply take God seriously, He'd pour out a blessing on us all we'd have no room to receive. If we'd simply pray during prayer meetings, expecting God to answer and show us the needs of those far from him all around us, who knows what would happen!!! Whatever did, it would be innovative!!!

Ryan Bell

I whole heartedly agree with Mike's comments above.

I guess I'd add that a foundational concept that was really important for me to grasp is that real innovation takes place at the level of core beliefs, or organizational culture, not what might be called "surface traits." Too often what passes for innovation is just tweaking with the surface traits of an organization (contemporary music vs. organ music, different organizational structure vis a vis, nominating committee, etc). These kinds of things only produce short term, unsustainable change. The deeper questions are not engaged.

Therefore, the question, "how can we get the church to 'work'"? is not a question that is going to lead to innovation. Better questions are something like, "What is the church for?" and "What does it mean to be the people of God in this place?" and "What would it look like to witness to God's Shalom in our city?"

I'd also say that a different way of being in relationship with scripture has led to some genuine innovation in my church. We need to find ways of helping people get past what they "know" scripture says, to really engaging with the narrative.

Another thing: innovation doesn't require everyone and it doesn't mean introducing wholesale change to your organization. All you need to do is create space at the margins of the organization for experimentation, feed the monster, and get out of the way. That, and the gatekeepers (board) need to give some measure of permission for this experimentation - but not a lot! They don't need to know anything about outcomes, in my experience, as long as they are assured that these innovators are not going to "take over the whole church."

One final thing: leaders that can lead innovation require extraordinary patience and a long view. Leaders have to be more interested in cultivating a culture of innovation than in being THE innovator. There is a tipping point at which a culture of innovation takes root and the organization can do almost anything.

Right now, my role as "innovator" in the Hollywood Church is to be the innovator of the PROCESS of being the church. I am not the chief innovator. I am more of a abbot, or a spiritual guide, or, to use the American football analogy, the coach.


Mike and Ryan, thanks for your suggestions. I did encorporate them into my presentation. If you would like for me to share the PowerPoint file of my presentation, just let me know.

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