Innovative strategies are often characteristic of growing and high impact companies, organizations and churches. Year in and year out these entities exceed the results of others by developing cutting edge tactics, technology, programs, products and systems. Yet, surveys show that few employees identify themselves as especially creative or innovative.
How then does innovation occur? Research indicates growing organizations draw upon a variety of sources to inspire innovative strategies. Below are seven such sources, contextualized to the local church: Other Churches, Organizational Vision, Past Results, Available Resources, Unique Opportunities, Member Expectations, and Where God is Working.
Seven Sources of Innovative Strategies
#1. Other Churches: This approach to generating innovative strategies involves researching and observing what other churches are accomplishing.
Advantage: The advantage of this approach is that you are on “the leading edge” rather than “the bleeding edge” of innovation, and you avoid many of the learning curve implications of new strategies.
Disadvantage: The major weakness of this approach is that it can fail to reflect the uniqueness of your church, and may not take into consideration the variables and resources of your context. The applicable maxim here is “adapt rather than adopt.”
#2. Church Vision: Here the filter for establishing innovative strategies is brainstorming around the church’s vision and annual objectives.
Advantage: The main advantage of this approach is organizational support because there is widespread agreement on the need for future focused strategies to accomplish the church’s vision and objectives.
Disadvantage: When used exclusively to establish strategies, this approach may overlook other available opportunities that are outside the church’s vision and objectives.
#3. Past Results: The standard used in setting strategies with this approach is examining the recent past performance of the ministries of the church and identifying areas for improvement in effectiveness and efficiency.
Advantage: The advantage of this approach is everyone understands and accepts the necessity of improvement.
Disadvantage: The chief problem with this approach is that it usually results in incremental progress when more substantive improvements may be required.
#4. Available Resources: With this approach available human, financial and physical resources are used to stimulate innovative strategies.
Advantage: This approach can take advantage of new member gifts, increased budgets, designated funds and new or improved facilities to spark innovative strategies.
Disadvantage: Using only available resources to determine your strategies fails to take into consideration what might be possible if you were not constrained by current resources.
#5. Unique Opportunities: Under this approach innovative strategies are determined based upon the unique opportunities the church’s community, location, demographics, member gifts and passions provide.
Advantage: This is a needs and gifts based approach to planning that identifies strategies to address gaps and needs that your church and its members can uniquely meet.
Disadvantage: The primary caution with this approach is the potential to become spread too thin and outstrip available resources.
#6. Member Expectations: Innovative strategies are determined with this approach based upon what church members expect.
Advantage: This approach will win you the approval of the people you are called to lead and shepherd and who pay your salary.
Disadvantage: The weakness of this approach is that church member expectations can be self-centered, short-term oriented, inward focused, unrealistic and lack understanding of the forces of cultural and church change.
#7. Where God Is Working: This approach involves looking inwardly and outwardly with spiritual eyes to see where God is working within the church’s sphere of influence.
Advantage: The obvious advantage is that you are capitalizing on the movement, strength and power of God’s will and spirit.
Disadvantage: The caution with this approach is to take the time and prayerfully discern if God is indeed inviting your church to join Him in this endeavor, and if so, to plan carefully and not get out ahead of God.
Posted on August 30, 2016