Why Be Innovative? The Amazing Advantage of the Small Church

iPhone in a brick wallWhy bother?

Your church is small. You don’t have enough money, people or facilities to be innovative, do you?

That’s precisely the reason we must be innovative.

Some of the world’s greatest ideas, products and revolutions came about, not because someone had unlimited money and resources, but precisely because they did not. Their lack what was what spurred them to think differently.

When you have plenty of money, people and other resources, you tend to do things in a fairly standard way. You go to the regular conferences, read the usual books, hire a consultant and follow the latest trend.

Good things can be done that way. Big things can be done that way. But innovative things are never done that way.

Innovation, by its very nature, is new, different and bold.

People (and churches) with money, time and resources can study and follow the latest methods, ideas and trends.

But the fact that it is being studied, followed and adopted by others, means it’s no longer innovative. Cutting edge, maybe. But no longer truly innovative.

Innovation can’t really be studied and adopted because, by the time it gets to the latest seminar where someone can teach others how to do it, the true innovator has moved on.

We usually stumble onto innovation, not by choice, but after being forced into a corner by circumstance.


The Cool Kids Don’t Start Revolutions

Our current, mind-numbingly fast electronic revolution is a great example of that. Today, it’s fueled by multi-billion dollar corporations, but that’s not where its true innovations started.

Apple and Microsoft weren’t birthed in the R & D departments of the world’s big companies (at the time, those were GM, IBM, Sears and other companies that are now referred to, not coincidentally, as “dinosaurs”).

The digital revolution was begun in suburban garages of cities like Seattle and San Jose (aka Slicon Valley), by teens and 20-somethings who were outsiders, geeks and nerds. They were tinkering with electronics in their parents’ garages on the weekend, instead of playing football or on the cheerleading squad, precisely because they were outsiders, geeks and nerds.

Today, those nerds run the world.

Their lack of money, resources and “cool” didn’t stop them from being innovative. It fueled it.


What’s In Your Hand?

So stand up, Small Church nerds, geeks and outsiders. Take a look around you. Realize you can’t do things the way the megachurch around the corner does things.

Then stop whining about it and start taking advantage of it.

What might God be leading you to do that’s never been done in quite that way before?

Like Moses, take a look at the stick in your hand. Ask God, “what did you give me this for?” Maybe even ask him, “why did you give me just this?” Then throw it on the ground and see what happens.

If that doesn’t work, throw it in the air, whittle it into into something new or get everyone else in your church to pile their sticks together. Then start building something no one’s ever seen before because no one’s ever had that pile of sticks before.

God never uses your stick the way he used someone else’s stick. He gave yours to you for a reason.

Try something new. It might become the innovation you, your church and a lot of other churches have been looking for.

You may find yourself holding a revolution by the tail.


So what do you think? Has your lack of people, money or other resources caused you to think innovatively? I f not, are there ways you can start doing that from this point on?

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(iPhone In Brick Wall photo from Peter Alfred Hess • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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6 thoughts on “Why Be Innovative? The Amazing Advantage of the Small Church”

  1. Great word Karl. I’m preaching about this next week at our church.

    PS – Really glad that I ran across your site this past month. I’ve been enjoying your posts and especially appreciate the way that you are encouraging small churches to “be all that they can be” without having to bash larger churches/ministries. Thanks so much!

  2. Have really enjoyed this weeks posts. Spot on, looking forward to implementing some innovation with our folks, letting them “make the list” of things.
    Thanks as always for the encouragement.

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