As a Marine, I can tell you this: The Marine Corps teaches its
soldiers to follow this maxim: When faced with any challenge, never
surrender; adapt and overcome. A true soldier, when faced with
incredible odds, doesn't surrender the fight. The only option is to
As a foot soldier in children's ministry, you can probably relate
to feeling stagnant, frustrated, in a rut, or even downright
ineffective. Rather than giving up or giving in, those moments are
a signal to us that it's time to innovate -- not retreat. Unique
challenges and periods of stagnation require creative
solutions...they call for innovation.
Even if you think you're not the creative type or that you're
too old, too tired, too busy, or too (insert other lame excuse
here) to innovate, you can develop an innovation mindset. And when
you do, whenever you fall into a ministry rut or face a problem,
your first instinct will be to get creative, not discouraged.
Here are three types of innovation you can use in the face of any
True Innovation: Create new ways of
True innovation creates a new way of thinking and is the purest
and rarest form of innovation. Think Apple's iPod -- a totally new
and surprising way to enjoy music, right?
True Innovation fills an empty void. God is our prime example.
God's Word is full of examples of him creatively bringing about
something new: a talking donkey, a virgin mother, a warrior child,
an ark of gopher wood. In each case, the unexpected innovation
revealed God's glory in a unique way.
Your talents can create unique and lasting change. Look at your
ministry through differently colored glasses, and you'll see
opportunities to innovate everywhere. Ask yourself these questions
to get started.
• What talent, skill, or gift do I have that's part of God's
unique plan for me?
• Where is there a void in my approach to ministry? (Odds are it
will be in a place that's troublesome to you.)
• How can I fill that void?
Innovate: When you've identified specific voids, it's time to
matchmake. Search your inventory of gifts, skills, and talents for
a solution. The solution may not always come in the form you
expect, either. Be open and willing to attempt new ways of solving
Common Innovation: Adapt existing resources to create
new ways of doing.
Common innovation adapts existing resources to create new ways of
doing. Think Space Bags storage bags. There's a unique way to adapt
an existing item-a big plastic bag. Fit it with a vacuum valve and
-- presto! -- you've got a way to store clothing in a fraction of
the space it'd normally take.
God came to Earth in the form of common man. He didn't come to be
raised in a king's palace. He was raised a simple carpenter's son,
However, his teaching style was anything but common. His teaching
style was to adapt everyday things into powerful lessons. Through
parables Jesus contrasted good and evil, taught right from wrong,
and even foreshadowed his own death. Jesus used common things to
innovate new ways of thinking, which led to new ways of doing. Use
these questions to stretch your innovation muscles.
• What are some of the most familiar, common items and concepts I
use in my ministry? Why?
• In what ways could I adapt those items and concepts to enhance
or change the way I do ministry, perform in my role, or better
Innovate: This form of innovation requires that you dismiss your
fear of failure. Odds are that when you take something familiar and
attempt to retool or adapt it, it may not go completely smoothly
the first (or even fifth) time. Great ideas and innovations are
rarely the result of a single stroke of brilliance. They are,
however, commonly the result of the better ideas that arise out of
failure. And they are marked by persistence.