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Why Innovation is Difficult & What to Do About It

A generation is always worth the time & energy it takes to innovate in your ministry. But it doesn't come easy. Check out how to prioritize innovation.
Innovation in Ministry

There are days that hearing the word “innovate” makes me want to scream! We hear . . . 


“Let’s innovate!”


“We just need an innovative idea.”


“Innovation will bring breakthrough.”


Sounds good, except when innovating sounds impossible. Is there really another way? A new idea? Something that will break things open?


The answer is, yes. 


Yes, there really is another way, new ideas and ways to love people better. There’s a way to get past where you are and lead to a better, more impactful future. And if you can’t see it, don’t worry, you’re not alone. 


Let’s talk about 3 reasons innovating is difficult and what you can do about it.


Here’s the top 3 reasons leaders find it hard to innovate:


1. You’ve been in it too long.


When you lead something for a long time, whether months or years or decades, when it becomes too familiar it’s hard to innovate and imagine something different. 


2. The system feels locked.


Every organization has a way of doing things. When you’re in an organization where it feels like the mantra is “this is the way we do it and there is no other way,” it can feel stifling and not worthwhile to innovate.


3. You’re too busy.


Leaders are busy and often the urgent drives the day. When the never ending cycle of ministry has your days on lock, it’s hard to imagine finding time to innovate. 


Have you been there? Can you resonate? We promise, there is a way forward. A way to innovate again. 


1. When you’ve been in it a long time there are a couple things that really help you get fresh perspective to innovate. 


Go see something else.


Take some time to go see another church’s programs and spaces. You could also try going to a museum, show, or exhibit. Plan to intentionally see something fresh, new and unfamiliar to you. Take it in. Enjoy it. Be curious about it. Allow it to expand your imagination. Then, imagine how you would run your ministry/event/program in that space, that environment. It will force you to think differently, imagine differently, and innovate.


Have someone else come see.


Invite another leader who has never experienced your world to come experience it. Ask them to honestly walk you through their experience. What did they see, feel, hear and experience? Ask them what they believe the goal of your ministry was based on being there. What values would they say you carry? Allow them to think about what they imagine doing differently. Their insight will not only clarify wether you are living out what you hope to be, but also give you fresh perspective on how to do it better.


2. When the system feels locked, you have to reestablish clarity on the outcome.


There’s a leadership principle that says framework affects outcome.  What you build determines where you end up. Everything we do is a framework to get us somewhere. There are both spoken and unspoken frameworks which the people of our churches and ministries originally put in place to reach their goals. Unfortunately what I consistently see is that people get more focused on the framework than the outcome. They built the framework for a desired outcome but then outcome is forgotten while the framework is idolized.


When the system feels locked, you have to go back to identifying the true outcome.


In all likelihood, you’ll still agree on the desired outcome or something very close to it. Reestablish that clear outcome. As people are re-inspired by the vision of the outcome they are more willing to shift the framework for greater impact. You create space for innovation. 


The world is busy. Ministry is busy. Life is busy. Busy is often the enemy of great. Getting to great impact requires innovation. Innovation requires time and space. We get it. It’s not easy, and it will require discipline, focus and creativity. There’s a chance it may require you to reorient your time and priorities. But one thing is for sure – it will be worth it. 


It’s so easy for the urgent to drive your calendar, but it will never end. The challenge is to stop long enough to decide that you’ll allow the important to determine your calendar. You will have to decide what to say no to. Without a doubt you will have to do some reprioritizing. You might change how your schedule works or where you do meetings.


Wrap Up 


As a leader, you need to keep the important at the forefront. We know you want greater impact, so create space to innovate. Go back to point one. Get into different spaces, seeing, and experiencing different things. Go on walks where you can imagine, pray, and wonder. It’s about gaining a distance from the mundane to have time with God to imagine the extraordinary. This is about deciding what is most important. When impact matters, innovation is needed. We want you to make impact. 


Innovation isn’t easy but it is worth it. The leaders who innovate have created space to do it. They’ve learned to be adventurous in their journeys, to experience new things regularly, to create time and space, and to be outcome oriented. Most importantly, they have experienced the deep value of innovation so they prioritize it. We know it’s in you to innovate. It can feel risky and uncomfortable if it’s new. But we know it’s worth it. A generation is always worth it. 


If you are looking to innovate your church for the future and need inspiration to help you get started, go to to learn about our new masterclass, The Future of the Church.

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