In ministry, innovation can be a great thing when utilized to reach and serve people. But like all great things, innovation can become an idol—something that ministry leaders seek as an end in itself. When innovation becomes the goal, it has moved from a tool for reaching people to an object of affection. How do we know the difference?
In Mark 2, we see four guys find a paralyzed man and bring him to Jesus. The paralytic was likely begging on the side of the road when these four unnamed men lifted him up and brought him to the house where Jesus was teaching. When they arrived at the house, they learned they could not get him through the front door. Too many people surrounded the house. The window, if there was one, was also blocked with a crowd of people attempting to get a glimpse of Jesus. So they innovated. They did something new, something unexpected. They tied ropes to the mat, climbed on the roof, broke through the thatch, and dug a hole large enough to lower the man. Jesus healed the man both physically and spiritually as He declared his sins to be forgiven.
To keep innovation in its proper place, as a tool and not an idol, we can learn from these four guys. To follow the example of these men, innovation in ministry must be:
- Founded in purpose.
If innovation is not founded in purpose, it becomes merely a flurry of activity. The point of the four guys’ innovation was not to take a roof off for the sake of taking a roof off. The innovation was merely a tool for the purpose of getting the man to Jesus.
- Focused on the person.
If innovation is not focused on people, it becomes a selfish experiment to gain fame. Clearly their goal was not their own names, as we have no idea who these men were. Their motivation was not to be recognized as innovators but to help a man find healing. The focus was not on the innovation of unroofing a roof but on a man who needed Christ.
- Fueled by passion.
If innovation is not fueled by passion, it will never happen. Their reluctance to give up moved them from the front door to the window to the roof. They innovated because they would not give up. Innovation and creativity is not for the lazy or dispassionate. It takes grind and grit to innovate, an intensity that is fueled by passion for a great mission.
How do we know if our innovation is a tool or an idol? Innovation is healthy when it is founded in purpose, focused on the person, and fueled by passion.
And yes, I did just alliterate on what it means to innovate.