Thriving Traits


Hear from Dr. Jon Roebuck:

Thriving Traits: Innovation

Three leaders share their experience merging two churches, becoming a non-denominational and affirming church, and lessons from leading congregations through innovation and change.

Video Transcribed:
Hey everybody, Jon with Project Thrive. 

In this video I want to talk about the second trait or characteristic that we’ve discovered can apply to churches that are thriving, particularly thriving in ways that build the kingdom [and] in ways that build a creative spirit in the neighborhood in which those churches are placed. 

The second characteristic is the characteristic of innovation [that is] innovation or creativity.

We were absolutely astounded in our research to find the spirit of creativity among the congregations that we studied. A sense of innovation, a sense of asking “what if?”

For churches to be innovative, they have to be willing to take some risks. They have to be willing to be creative.

Instead of saying, “We can’t,” they begin to say, “Well maybe we can.” They begin to look at ways of suggesting new forms of ministry, new ways of doing outreach, new ways of drawing people to their building, new ways of ministering to needs.

It’s this spirit of innovation that becomes extremely important. The question you need to ask your congregation is: Are we willing to be creative? Can we begin to set aside some of the things that we have done forever, some of the old methodology, some of the old programming we have done? 

Are we willing to ask the question: But what if we did something else? What if we tried something new? Are we willing to take some risks? 

Now let’s be honest with each other. Sometimes risk taking ends in failure. Not everything you launch, not every program you dream will come to fruition. But, sometimes they will. 

Let me give you an example from my own personal ministry. Several years ago, I was pastoring Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville. One year, we decided that we wanted to do something special for the city of Nashville for a Christmas present. We decided we were going to do a canned food drive. But to make it a little more exciting for our people, we said “Let’s build a Christmas tree – a twenty four foot tall tree made entirely of cans. Once we’ve collected all the cans, we’re going to give it to some of the local food banks in order for them to do ministry.” 

Well, one of our deacons who was leading the charge said, “We’re going to need to collect 18,000 cans between Thanksgiving and Christmas to build a big tree with 18,000 cans.” 

That was just a God sized dream to think about collecting that many cans. 

But as soon as we started trying to pitch the idea, there were some people who had a lot of negative thoughts as you might imagine. Some people said, “Well what if it falls?” or “What if it collapses the concrete below it? What if it rains and all the labels peel off? What if somebody steals the food?” 

All these kinds of things came up right until finally one of our deacons in a deacon meeting said “But what if it works? What if we’re able to accomplish that goal? What if we were able to minister to people through the giving of canned goods this Christmas?” 

Suddenly that spirit of innovation and creativity caught on like wildfire. Instead of collecting 18,000 cans we actually collected twice that. We collected 36,000 cans. 

So I want you to think about your church and your situation: Are there new thoughts that we haven’t had? Are there new dreams we’ve yet to dream? Do we have a spirit of innovation? Do we have a spirit of creativity?

Churches that are tending to thrive in inner city environments are churches that are becoming very creative with the way they go about their work, with the way they reach out to people, even with the way they structure the staff. 

So do you have a spirit of innovation? That’s the second great trait.