Choosing paint colors was supposed to be the biggest challenge of the project. Not even close. The biggest challenge of updating the children’s space at the local church I was serving was removing a small, 9X12 banner attached to a stairwell leading to the space. This small banner was brown (used to be white), hung from a stick (from the woods), with about 10 small painted hands. Think preschool art…hung 20 years ago…in a huge stairwell…taking up the center 5% of the space. This banner had no names and no one could tell me who the painted hands belonged to, but the pushback of removing that banner was fierce and loud. I had no idea that trying to do something new or doing a new thing would be a tipping point in my life about sacred cows and growing into a spiritual entrepreneur.
If ever there was a time when we can do things new and do new things in the local church, at work, and at home to further the cause of Jesus, it’s now. Yes, we will always have challenges, but “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is no longer one of them. If ever you had permission to do stuff differently or not at all, now’s the time.
When the Pandemic began last March, I learned about the Spanish Flu Pandemic in the early 1900s. It took America about 2 ½ years to cross over into a more relaxed pace of change. 2 ½ years. That’s a good time frame to look beyond the typical and expected, and just try stuff. It’s in the experimentation and editing to excellence where you’ll grow your innovation muscles.
Carey Neuhoff calls us ‘spiritual entrepreneurs’. Neuhoff reports that spiritual entrepreneurs have a radical determination. They’re wired for innovation and show an apostle-Paul-like fierceness fully understanding they will get push-back and more criticism than praise, even to the point of sabotage by really good people. Yes, we submit to the authority over us (Romans’ biblical mandate), but we know without a doubt that God is at work in the world and we want to be part of it.
A spiritual entrepreneur is a leader who pushes forward in a state of experimentation. They are driven to gather, equip, and mobilize God’s people to obediently make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in innovative ways. A spiritual entrepreneur is a disciple of Jesus who sees opportunities instead of obstacles.
But what about the obstacles? Let’s go to the Bible.
From the first chapter of Genesis, we learn that creation is good and God is good. Being fruitful and multiplying is the charge of God upon Adam and Eve, and even Noah and his family. God made millions of things, for which only one was necessary, but the creativity of God is ‘to infinity and beyond’. As image-bearers of this good and creative God, we not only have permission, but a cultural mandate to develop things in excessive goodness.
What things? As followers of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, we are entrusted with the gospel of Jesus AND the giftings to make the good news of Jesus real in the areas of the world we live so that others will know Him, too.
Do you like starting stuff? I do! If ever there was a time to start new stuff or make some good stuff new, NOW is the time. All of those institutional and cultural systems like church only on Sunday or all large groups have to be done in the fellowship hall are no longer.
Doug Paul is a bi-vocational pastor and innovation strategist. He wrote the book, Ready or Not: Kingdom Innovation for a Brave New World published in, you guessed it, September 2020. He repeatedly offers that “Innovation is a skill you can learn, but it’s a spiritual process.” It’s a spiritual process, because it must bring glory to Jesus.
How to get started? Prayerfully ask good questions? Lots of questions of the people you are serving or want to serve. Make no assumptions, and ask even more questions. The best answers will come not from a paper survey, but questions asked in relationship.
As you are asking good questions, let this question be one you ask yourself of your world, “What’s in your hand?” God asked Moses this question at Mt. Sinai. Moses had plenty of excuses for not obeying the voice of God coming from the burning bush. But God wouldn’t let Moses go. The turning point? A good question: “What’s in our hand?”
Whether you are a Christian, grandparent, a parent, or on staff at your local church you have permission to creatively share the life and love of Jesus with those around you with what’s in your hand.
I challenge you to prayerfully consider using this time frame of 2 ½ years from last March to ask, “What’s in my hand?” and experiment in small increments of time like 60 days or 90 days. Prayerfully consider, because we are reminded in big John, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
“I’m neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” – Albert Einstein
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