When churches want to grow, they often fall into the trap of copying the success of others. They see something working in another church and try to recreate that success in their own congregation. Too often, it just leads to frustration because you can’t see all the context that went into making that ministry idea successful.
Why not foster your own innovative and creative ideas? It’s not that difficult once you learn to do it!
Here are six suggestions to get you started:
1. Ask yourself hard questions
You want to start the process with some honest assessment. You can do this alone, but ideally, you will gather a team of leaders who can help you think through your recent history. You want to ask…
- When was the last time a major change originated in-house?
- Is it still going? Why or why not?
- If you needed strategic thinkers to help you do some innovative planning, what three people immediately spring to mind?
- Are most of your leaders explorers or settlers? It’s okay if there are a lot of settlers, but you want to make sure that they aren’t controlling how decisions are made.
- When was the last time you successfully tackled a problem in a totally unique way?
2. Devote time to brainstorming
When you identify some out-of-the-box thinkers, pool them together to brainstorm ministry ideas. It’s important that you encourage really outlandish ideas—the crazier the better. If you’re too quick to shut an idea down, you ruin the brainstorming process because people are too wary to make suggestions. You can narrow the list down later. Keep track of some of the best ideas and see if you can develop them into working plans.
3. Don’t rush to copy other church ministries
It can be really helpful to see what other churches are doing, but not just so you can create a carbon copy of a popular ministry. Instead of copying other church ministries, take them apart and see how they work. You may want to actually talk to the church and ask probing questions like…
- What was the need you were trying to meet?
- How did this idea come about?
- What were some of the immediate challenges that you faced?
- How did the idea need to alter in order to be successful?
It’s hard to be successful by trying to recreate someone else’s ministry, but when you learn to take the ministry idea apart and answer how it works, you’re empowering yourself to be a creative problem solver. It will also enable you to look at ministries and see how the seeds of the idea might work in your own church.
4. Look at organizations outside the church
Don’t limit yourself to looking at ministries of churches. Start by looking at businesses, charities, and other organizations that are coming up with unique ways to take care of their people and reach out to people on the fringes.
- What kinds of perks do they provide for their employees?
- How do they create loyalty in their employees?
- What kinds of businesses do they partner with to do charitable work?
- What kind of marketing are they doing to raise awareness about their organization?
- What interesting ways are nonprofits raising funds?
5. Find out where the biggest pain points are in your community
Do the footwork necessary to discover what problems are specific to your community. It could be any number of things from food insecurity to teen pregnancy. Once you identify those problems, start brainstorming inventive ways your church can meet those needs.
You don’t want to think about it as a way to “grow” your church. That kind of thinking is going to get in the way of your ideation. You want to come up with some unfettered ideas, even if you can’t think of a way that you’ll benefit from them—maybe especially if you can’t think of a way you’ll benefit from them.
6. Look closely at the things you’re doing now
One of the best ways to start thinking innovatively is to start seeing yourself as an innovator. That means you’re going to need to overhaul some of your current practices. If you’re still using overhead transparencies or even PowerPoint, it might be time to think about upgrading to a church presentation software.
Look at how you’re communicating with your church. Is the bulletin one of the key ways that you’re letting people know what’s up? It’s time to consider a native church app to help you keep your congregation engaged. A solution like Pushpay’s Total Engagement Package, will not only keep your church on the same page but revolutionize the way your church takes offerings.
Keeping the Young People Engaged
One of the keys to innovation for churches lies in keeping young adults engaged. They already see the world differently. Tapping into their perspective can help you to see your opportunities in an entirely new way!