When thinking about innovating in our own church, it can be helpful to look at the successes and pitfalls of other churches who have gone before us. In the book of Revelation, we find seven letters written to seven different churches – churches that were still fairly new and getting their bearings in their communities. Read Revelation 2-3. While there are a variety of different warnings and suggestions, there are two common themes that emerge for me.
First, there is a call for the churches to remember their purpose, to remember by whom and for whom they exist. There are many warnings about not getting distracted by the things of the world, but instead remembering the word of God and the love they are called to live. This is an important call for churches in every age. As we innovate and try new things, we must keep our eyes on God. If we continue to be in prayer together and strive to walk with God each step of the way, we are in less danger of stepping off course and making our work about us instead of about the love of God.
Second, there is a call for “patient endurance.” Living counter-culturally is not easy! Innovating isn’t easy. There is always risk involved and in all likelihood, our first idea will fail. In fact, our second, third, fourth, and fifth ideas may fail… and that’s okay! Like the churches in Revelation, we can “hold fast to what we have” – our calling from God and our love. We are a people of hope who can trust that the Holy Spirit is helping us to “fail forward.” With each failure, we learn and grow and get one step closer to the exciting ministry to which God is calling us.
“Innovation is the outcome of a habit, not a random act.” Sukant Ratnakar