Over the last two years, the Church was forced to stretch and find new ways to gather and share the gospel. The invention was birthed out of necessity but as necessity waned, the interest in the innovations has largely waned as well. Yet, culture proceeds to shifts and changes fast and we are still called to make disciples. To reverse the decline of the Church in North America, we need to cultivate an attitude for innovation in the Church. We need to be conducting ministry experiments.
To reverse the decline of the Church in North America, we need to cultivate an attitude for innovation in the Church.
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Consider your ministry a laboratory where you are conducting experiments to create the most effective ministry systems possible. When you are trying something new, instead of trying to do something complicated, break it down into smaller components to minimize the number of factors you’re testing. Approaching a ministry this way helps in de-bugging.
Take for example corporate worship. Let’s say you are working to improve this ministry area. Don’t change everything at once. If you add drama, change the music, and switch out the worship leader at the same time, you can’t tell what worked. Or if it didn’t work, you can’t tell which item failed or masked another item’s success. Rather, introduce one new variable at a time and evaluate its effect. In this way, you can see what makes the difference.
Reducing the variables in ministry experiments
Ministry experiments like these remind me of my science and math background. Equations are not solvable if there are too many variables. If you have too many moving parts, and it doesn’t work, you don’t know why it didn’t work. There are too many options for what could have gone wrong. Likewise, if you try a bunch of different solutions at the same time to try to solve a problem and you succeed at solving that problem, you don’t know which solution it was that actually worked.
When you want to test something, make it as simple as possible so you can be testing just the one thing you want to evaluate. As your debugging begins to work, you can then identify the overarching general principle and begin working off of that concept. In this way, you can also pass the process on to others if you have already isolated what works and what doesn’t. Test the theory first, then pass it on. Rather than starting three groups at once, start one, assess the results, then try letting someone else do it. Does it still work? Approaching the problem from this angle allows you to assess one variable at a time. Was it the leader? The process? The content?
Eliminate all but the basics
In a way, the process is similar to identifying a food allergy. Start with just a few basics, then introduce one new food at a time, allowing time in between to look for reactions.
How do you know if your ministry experiments work? How do you make the success reproducible? Narrow the focus. Identify what you are trying to accomplish. Discern variables for testing. Add or eliminate them one at a time. Keep it focused and don’t add anything else to the experiment and you’ll very likely have your answers.
Resources to grow in Creativity and Innovation– The reality is that in the right circumstances, any individual can be creative or at least be more creative than they were, just by having a new or different view from everyone else. The Creativity and Innovation Effectiveness Profile and Creativity and Innovation Skills Builder are powerful tools to help get your creative juices flowing. You can also work through the Creativity and Innovation Coaching Guide with your coach.
Change Management Resources- Maybe you have all sorts of fresh ideas—the trouble is convincing people to try them. Change needs to be managed well in order to ensure the best possible outcome. Working through the Change Management Effectiveness Profile and Change Management Skills Builder can help. Also consider working through the Change Management Coaching Guide with your coach.
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