Ministry leaders in the US are missionaries to the third largest mission field in the world with 195 million unchurched souls (Butts, 2006). This may be a sad reality for the advancement of the Kingdom, or an overwhelming truth for ministries to overcome. Bill Hybels (2002) would disagree by saying this is a great opportunity for the church to gain new ground, launch new ministries, take risks and serve the poor. He would continue saying ministry leaders are being called to higher levels of leadership because the doors are open wider than in the last quarter century (Hybels, 2002). Unfortunately, the American church is plagued with a desperate lack of leadership in terms of innovation, change, creativity, vision, and new ideas (Butts, 2006).
For some ministry leaders, they want to innovate, but where is the time? Providing pastoral care to a small congregation can be overwhelming to the weekly schedule, and if proper attention is going to be given to scripture study, sermon development and delivery, there is no time to innovate and dream. When a ministry leader is a primary caregiver to a congregation, the ministry of the church will be limited (Galloway, 2002) and will plateau or decline because there is a bottleneck of leadership. This also breeds innovation antibodies within the congregation: those who attack and defeat new ideas. Church cultures with a strong status quo or great successes in the past face the largest number and toughest antibodies (Davila et al., 2012).
Neutralizing change antibodies require ministry leaders be courageous enough to develop a culture open to questioning assumptions, debating alternatives to current approaches, and taking risks by putting faith into action (Davila, et al., 2012). In church leadership, an innovative pastor is essential (Butts, 2006)
What safe changes can ministry leaders experiment with?
Butts, B. G. (2006). The entrepreneurial leader as change agent: Developing innovative churches (D.Min.). Asbury Theological Seminary, United States — Kentucky. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.regent.edu/docview/304923079/abstract/528859405EC54D36PQ/1
Davila, T., Epstein, M. J., & Shelton, R. D. (2013). Making innovation work: how to manage it, measure it, and profit from it (Updated ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press.
Galloway, D. (2002, November). Becoming a Leader of Leaders. Lecture presented at the Beeson Pastor Lecture, Asbury Theological Seminary.
Hybels, B. (2002, August). The Sky High Stakes of Leadership. Simulcast presented at the Leadership Summit, Cincinnati, OH.