8 Nations of Innovation for Your Church

Great innovations come from great questions. The quality of your ministry will be determined by the kind of questions you have the courage to ask yourself. If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right answers. If you don’t get the right answers, you won’t build the right strategy for your ministry. And, if you don’t have the right strategy, you’ll never get the results you hope for. It is critical for you to ask the right questions!

Asking the right questions is a skill you can develop. And you can get good at it. I want to suggest to you eight questions of innovation. These questions will help you innovate—no matter your area of ministry.

I call them the eight nations of innovation, but these nations aren’t geographic. They’re nations of imagination. I’ve used these exact questions to build Saddleback Church, the Purpose Driven Movement, The PEACE Plan, the Global PEACE Coalition and a number of other ministries.

1. Termination: What do I first need to stop?

You can have so many irons in the fire that you put out the fire. The great Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter used to call this creative destruction. One of my mentors, Peter Drucker, used to call it systematic abandonment. When the horse is dead, dismount. This is a real key to success.

Here’s an example: For many years at Saddleback Church, we had a midweek Bible study, and we had a thousand people coming each week. Despite that, we decided to end the Bible study. Why? We weren’t satisfied with a thousand people. So we decentralized the study material and funneled it into small groups. And so today, because we terminated our midweek service, we now have more than 32,000 people in small group Bible studies all the way from Santa Monica to San Diego. There are cities all across Southern California where Saddleback small groups meet. This never would have happened if we hadn’t asked the question, “What do we first need to stop?” Asking this question helped us see the necessity of terminating our midweek service.

2. Collaboration: How do we do it faster, how do we do it larger, how do we do it cheaper—with a team?

If you want to start a movement, you need a team. Your team can include paid staff, but the real path to success is to create a team of volunteers. One of the secrets of Saddleback’s growth is that we’ve mobilized thousands of volunteers. A few years back, during 40 Days of Community, our church fed every homeless person in Orange County. We fed 42,000 homeless people three meals a day for 40 days. We couldn’t have done it without volunteers working together as a team.

3. Combination: What could we mix together to create something new?

One way to innovate is to take two existing things and combine them together. Years ago we combined the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the eight beatitudes of Jesus to create Celebrate Recovery. It’s now the official recovery program in 17 state prison systems, and used by tens of thousands of churches. More than 15,000 people at Saddleback have gone through Celebrate Recovery. Why? We combined two existing things and created something new and innovative.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

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