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Lead Like It Matters with Innovative Minds

Lead Like It Matters with Innovative Minds

If what your church or ministry is doing now is effective and changing lives, enjoy it while it lasts. Because what’s working now won’t work in the future. The message we preach must never change, but how we communicate it must change as the world changes. This may sound discouraging, but it’s true. If you don’t change, you won’t last. If you don’t adapt how you share the gospel, your effectiveness will likely lessen over time because the world is changing too fast. William Pollard said, “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

If the subject of my book, Lead Like It Matters, were businesses instead of churches, you’d probably agree with this thought: “The most successful companies of the future will be doing things no one is doing today.” If you didn’t agree, I’d encourage you to take a walk down memory lane. If you are old enough to remember, think back to 1980. In 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted, the Rubik’s Cube debuted, Post-it Notes became a thing, and I was elected president of my eighth-grade class. (I’m guessing you didn’t know about my blowout election. No offense taken.)

If you were into business in 1980, you’d remember some of the biggest companies were General Motors, Walmart, Exxon, and Ford. Fast-forward to today, and the companies in the headlines include Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, all of which did not exist the year I won the big election. It’s safe to say they are all doing things that most of us did not even dream possible.
Massive shifts are certainly not limited to business. Let’s take churches. The largest churches in America today did not exist in 1980 (or even 1990). Have churches changed? For centuries, when a church gathered, they met in a single building and their ministry was mostly limited to a single community. Then technology and innovation made one church in multiple locations possible. Shortly after, church online became a reality.

If you are ready for change, you are ready for growth. This mindset changes how you see problems. When you think about it, every innovation is really a solution to a problem. Problems aren’t things to be feared but opportunities to embrace. Many great innovations are solutions to a problem people did not even know they had. No one was asking for an iPod, iPad, or iPhone. Most people never wanted a device that would listen to you twenty-four hours a day, play music, tell you the weather, and send you whatever you ordered from Amazon. But I use all of those devices today (except the iPod, which is so 2002).

If you have a problem in your ministry, think of it as an opportunity. Maybe you have lost a key staff member, you can’t find land, or you struggle to stream online. Tell yourself this is not just a problem to solve but an opportunity to seize. Problems equal potential. Because every innovation is a solution to a problem.

Embrace Your Limitations

In 2006 and 2007, our church was named the most innovative church in America and was featured in Outreach magazine. I was honored, yet openly acknowledged that it was the people around me who were the innovative ones. I was just the guy crazy enough to let them try their whacked-out ideas. (For the record, I believe the most innovative leaders are the ones most of us have not heard of yet.)

Because of this honor, I have sometimes been invited to consult and teach on innovation. Before I speak on the subject, the two most common complaints I hear from leaders are:

  1. We just don’t have any creative people.
  2. If only we had more money, we could be really creative.

While I acknowledge that an abundance of resources opens many possibilities, I suggest these two complaints are simply excuses that prevent many great ideas from becoming reality. Our leaders have stumbled upon something that has changed the way we do ministry. Maybe you’ve heard the old adage “Where God guides, he always provides.” We made up a new saying: “God often guides by what he doesn’t provide.”
Read that again slowly and think about it in relation to your ministry. God often guides by what he doesn’t provide. Are you up against a wall with no good plan to get past it? Have you hit an obstacle that appears insurmountable? Maybe God will guide you to see something you wouldn’t if he had removed the wall.
A great example of this principle is found in Acts 3. Peter and John were traveling to their afternoon temple prayer meeting when they saw a man who had been crippled his whole life being carried to his begging post. The hurting beggar recognized Peter and held out his cup, hoping to get some change to buy dinner. That’s when God started using Peter’s limitations—what Peter didn’t have—to guide him. Think about it. If Peter had had a few bucks on him, it might have been easy to toss a bill toward the man, nod politely, and keep moving to be on time for prayer. But because he did not have what the man wanted, he was able to give the man what he needed. Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6, emphasis mine). Then Peter reached down and pulled the man to his feet. I wonder whether this would have happened if Peter hadn’t been financially limited.
The truth: you have what you need. Watch out for the excuses.
Most of us make them occasionally. Maybe you’ve thought:

  • We could do so much more if our people gave more.
  • We could reach more people if we had a better building.
  • We could have an awesome ministry if we could afford more staff.

Whenever you’re tempted to whine about what you don’t have, remember that God has given you everything you need to do everything he wants you to do. Peter wrote, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God” (2 Peter 1:3 MSG). If you don’t have something you think you need, maybe it’s because God wants you to see something you’ve never seen. The truth is, innovation is more about mindset than money.
If you believe you can’t, you can’t. If you believe you can find a way, you probably will. If you think you lack what you need to do what you need to do, you won’t do what you need to do even if you have what you need. Having more is not always better. It can be worse. Why? More people can slow things down. More time can make you lazy. More money can train you to buy solutions rather than create them. When you look at the business world, you see this reality. Most innovative companies are startups that don’t have much or mature organizations that enforce artificial restraints to push innovation.

Your greatest ministry innovation could come from your greatest limitation—if you have a sincere passion to reach and care for people. When you ask God for eyes to see, you may see what has always been there but you never noticed.

How to Use Lead Like It Matters

Lead Like It Matters from Life.Church Pastor and New York Times Bestselling Author Craig Groeschel will help you:
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  • Maximize your organization’s God-given potential through three new realms of leadership.
  • Discover what ‘it’ is and how you can bring it to life within your organization.
  • Learn to develop a vision for your organization that will help set the foundation for creating and capturing ‘it’.
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  • Start a conversation through practical advice, real-world examples, and thoughtful discussion questions that will inspire your team to grow in their leadership.

Get your copy today to discover how to find and keep the intangible but unmistakable, God-given ‘it’ factor that will transform your leadership and make your organization one that lasts.