Innovation is important, but it’s also hard. We live in a time of change. In order to remain effective, strategic, and relevant, we must innovate. So how does one do that?
The word “innovation” begs a bit of a disclaimer. Obviously, we don’t want to innovate doctrine. That’s already been settled. It has been for a long time. God has taken care of that and written it down in His word. Even though the phrase is cliché, it bears repeating: “Methods are many. Principles are few. Methods always change. Principles never do.”
Truth is there. Keep it, guard it, preserve it. Then, innovate your methods as you move forward.
Eight Tips for Innovation
- Ask lots of questions. Why are things done this way? What alternatives do we have? What is our goal? How are things done elsewhere?
- Challenge your present way of doing things. Just because you’ve done it a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean you should keep doing it that way forever. Be willing to take a long, hard look at your current practices.
- Don’t be afraid of experimentation. In order to test an idea, you have to try it out. From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, innovation comes through experimentation. Some ideas won’t work, and that’s okay.
- Accept any and all ideas. Ideas are the birthplace of innovation. Get as many as you can. Reject none.
- Talk to other church leaders. Some people are wired for innovation. Explore what others are doing.
- Read books. The reason why books sell is that they explain a new idea (or at least a new way of stating an old idea). Reading books will help you innovate.
- Stop and think. Sometimes, you may need to climb out of the well-worn rut of daily routine and do some concentrated thinking. Take your laptop to a coffee shop. Take a notebook to a nearby state park. Get away. Think. Pray.
- Be brave. Innovation means facing times of unknown. Innovation is not for the weak of heart. Be prepared to face obstacles, challenges, roadblocks, and intimidation.
A Word to the Wise
Innovation sounds cool. Edgy. Trendy. Exciting. But innovation for innovation’s sake is idiocy. We innovate in order to accomplish more, better. Do not abandon old practices just because they are old. Challenge ineffectiveness, wastefulness, and lethargy, not time-tested worthy endeavors.
We would do well to remember what God told Joshua. Joshua was a new leader, facing the intimidating prospect of entering a new land, and God gave him this encouragement.
“I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:5-6).