Helping Churches Think Through Innovation and Technology in Today’s Context

With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, many have reminded church leaders how they need to be innovating.

The words “church” and “innovation” have been lumped together for quite some time. In fact, Ed Stetzer co-authored a book called 11 Innovations in the Local Church over ten years ago. So it’s not new. However, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, many have reminded church leaders how they need to be innovating.

I’m sure that when pastors and church leaders hear the word “church” and “innovation”, they probably resort to one of the following four positions:

  • Apprehensive—because they don’t know how to innovate
  • Indignant—because they don’t think the church needs to be innovative
  • Ecstatic—because they’ve been waiting on an opportunity to innovate
  • Stubborn—because they don’t believe they need to innovate

When church experts or leading church practitioners encourage churches to innovate, I’m assuming they are telling them to do something new compared to what they’ve been doing. For instance, when churches had to pivot from in-person gatherings to streaming online services, many saw that as innovation. I figure you could call that innovation since Joseph Schumpeter, a seminal thinker on innovation and economics in the early 20thcentury, characterized innovation as:

  • Introduction to a new good
  • Introduction to a new method of production
  • The opening of a new market
  • Access to new sources of raw materials or components
  • The introduction of new forms of organization

Schumpeter’s characteristics give us a broad description to at least understand innovation and define it as “the development of something new.”

However, let me be clear: just because a church “innovates” doesn’t make them innovators. …

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