Ministry Innovation

  • Ministry Innovation

    Posted by Ted on June 7, 2023 at 8:24 am

    I would be curious to know if people in this forum would be willing to share the obstacles that they face in innovating within existing ministry structures. If you have thoughts on this, please post them here.

    Roland Muller replied 3 months ago 7 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Kim Kargbo

    June 7, 2023 at 9:18 am

    Team capacity for new things and staffing shortages (all related to funding, really).

  • Joseph Handley

    June 7, 2023 at 11:03 am

    I agree with Kim: capacity — both in people and funding is one issue… Another issue at times can be current teams committed to the ways we’ve done things for years.

    We are in a season of discernment for our entire movement about innovation to get people thinking and processing. This fall, at our annual gathering, we’ve dedicated the entire 3 days to discussions related to this and reviewing work that several task forces have forged for us to get things moving.

    Plus, we have several innovation factories in motion presently. All of those give fuel for thought for the other gathering. We hope people will see the fruit of those innovation attempts.

    Praying we can move the needle with our teams (gathering in October) and build on the innovation hubs (about 3 or 4 ventures in motion presently)

    In some ways, the capacity issues are helping us as they gave us an easier way for people to see the need for innovation.

  • GiveWay Visioneering

    June 7, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    There are “earthquakes” happening in so many areas of ministry and meeting the challenges with innovation is key, isn’t it? To loosely quote Wayne Gretzky, we need to become more adept at risking some action upon where we think the puck is going. To name that barrier – allowing mistakes to be made. This takes releasing money and people.

    However, the Lord is also preparing the answers, as He tends to do IF we are looking to the future rather than the present. It is true that we ignore our past to our peril but perhaps in today’s frenetic pace, the past could be seen in merits of foundation rather than as points of reference.

    Fundraising is experiencing the “earthquake” of large, unrestricted giving, reducing the need for microscopic measuring as donors just want to get on with it. The language we use in our fundraising can bring our donor base to this new, preferred, reality. Concepts such as, “long-term sustainable giving” allows local people (in whatever culture) to take charge. Therefore, taking the long view in fundraising allows us to expand while seeing an exit strategy (releasing people for other work) where we can. (For example, using Philippians as a case study for church planting shows that the missionary moves on; the church continues to support the missionary while growing to support itself.)

    Being more inclusive as we recruit personnel from every nation and sector of society is another “earthquake.” The language, culture, and look of our recruiters needs to be welcoming, opening the possibilities and the generosity of the nations and the diaspora.

    To summarize the points of funding and personnel: as we all know, the resources are in the harvest and it’s ready – are we seeing it? To name that barrier – allowing visionaries/prophets (even if they’re foreigners and/or women) to speak and be heard alongside past and current respected sages. The ideas are probably being seen by our young (Acts 2:17) and we have to be willing to catch their vision for their generation.

  • Nate Scholz

    June 20, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    I was just talking with @Patrice Conrath about this yesterday.

    When disruptive newness appears within a living organism the antibodies arrive ready to attack. If leaders are serious about innovation, they need to create a protected space to incubate it. Seems like there are three potentials:

    1. No protection and the innovators have to create in a hostile environment.

    2. Protection and advocacy from leadership incorporates implementation in the organization.

    3. Protection and disinterest from leadership leaves innovation to die in its cocoon.

  • Jon Hirst

    July 5, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    These are all good insights! My sense is that the barriers to innovation are: Resourcing (both people and money), Risk (will we let people potentially fail), Reputation (will we try things that may impact how people see us). The biggest mental challenge is the reputation one and the biggest tactical challenge is the resourcing. Risk is pervasive.

  • Roland Muller

    April 22, 2024 at 5:29 pm

    Expectations are a great barrier. When training new folk, one of the first steps is to tear down all their expectations. As we go through their expectations, we ask folk to show us where they are in the Bible. Some folk have great expectations for their first year, some expect their leaders never to fail, their finances to be similar to everyone at home, their health insurance to never fail, their ministry to be immediately successful, the folks they minister to -to be able to read and write, that they will get something out of the new church plant services, rather than just put into it. etc. After looking at a long series of expectation, and discussing then, then we can start talking about finding innovative ways to deal with things, or share the innovative solutions that God has led us into, as an organization.

  • Nate Scholz

    June 20, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    Yes @Patrice (you’re link is also not popping up),

    @Ted Esler told me this morning that there are two kinds of innovators in our circles: Those of us who are seeking to change our organizational structures and practices, and the disruptive entrepreneurial inventors. There’s a balance to be had between being overly cautious and running around breaking things.

    No matter what we’re innovating, we have to also innovate socially. You can’t expect organizational/institutional culture to turn on a dime. As missionaries we go to great lengths to contextualize a the new message of the gospel to unreached/unengaged peoples that we engage. Shouldn’t we then also be better than most at presenting internal change messaging to our own people?

    Tod Bolsinger’s (Canoeing the Mountains) definition of transformational leadership rings in my ears. I’ll get it wrong, but it was something like, “disappointing your community at a rate that they can tolerate.” There is much that is valuable about existing cultures and we need to operate surgically and with an empathetic presentation.

  • Jon Hirst

    July 5, 2023 at 12:33 pm

    @N8Scholz and @Patrice great conversation. I agree that the advocacy from leaders is really important. The other two options you outlined Nate are either hostility or negligence. Neither of those are viable for much to happen in the innovation space. That is why the courage of our top leaders is a must have for an innovative culture.

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