I’m reading the book Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church From the Inside Out. For quite a while I have not been real thrilled with the church model of following other church’s models. I’ve seen way too many churches buy into a market-driven christianity and implement programs from market-savvy companies.
That might be a bit harsh, but I wonder what churches would do if churches couldn’t purchase the 40 days of purpse, Purpose Driven Church, Willow Creek programs, etc. Are we getting to the point where we wouldn’t really know what to do at all? If there were no ‘programs’ what would the church do?
So, at my current church I’m trying it a different way. First, we started some prayer groups. Second…well, I’m not sure yet. I’m finding “doing church” this way slow and I’m lacking patience. Culture Shift has helped me a lot because they are calling leaders to know the current culture of their church, discover the type of cutlure God is wanting to create, and then, through the Spirit, shift the current culture to the culture God wants.
The author’s use a phrase that I would like to coin for this process, “Innovation of the Spirit.” I’m convinced that instead of being program-driven or perhaps even purpose-driven, we should strive to be Spirit-driven. A very important part of my argument is that programs such as Purpose-Driven church, for Saddleback were very much Spirit-driven. But in our current church culture we have a way of taking something that was Spirit-driven, packaging it up, and marketing it, so other churches can implement it. It would be so wonderful, if each church could discover for herself what Saddleback, Willowcreek and others have discovered of God doing a “new” and unique thing in their midst.
The first step is to begin listeing to the Spirit of God. This happens through prayer. Could it be that we have lost this ability and skill? We are more comfortable with brain storming sessions. Could it be we lack the patienced to be God led? We are more comforable with “Git-R-Done.” Could it be that to again be moved by the Spirit means that we must leave our current comforts and cultures behind?
As church leaders merely duplicate someone else’s vision, they diminish their innovation, creative, and entrepreneurial side. Their gears become frozen; so long as they focus on copying someone else’s ministry, they don’t learn to get the stuck gears going.
If you don’t live by God’s promises, you’ll never advance and grow. You’ll clone, continue, duplicate, and maintain. Building by program is faster, but it doesn’t last. Programs build a presence but not a future. Building with programs means building a subculture for today, but building your unique culture releases your future.
In moving with the innovation of the Spirit to develop new vistas, you say, “Lord, we’ve not gone that way before, but we need to hear the Spirit speak to us.” You look at the peope in your church and understand why God put them there. You recognize that there are thousands of people in your community yet to be reached. You rejoice in the resources available to you, agreeing that God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think [the New International Version translate this word imagine] according to the power that works within us…”
We need an innovative edge to spiritual leadership in the twenty-first century. Business as usual isn’t changing the world. Something isn’t working when we see churches closing and too many others continuing just what they’re doing and never noticing that the Holy Spirit didn’t show up. Living by promises rather than others’ programs, you sense the Spirit saying to you, “This is what you’re doing to destroy the culture.” You also see how the Spirit wants to ignite your church. You discover afresh that no one is more creative than the Creator of the universe — and that if you can tap into him, you’ll be surprised at the things he shows you.