Innovating for Love: Christian Social Innovation by Kenda Creasy-Dean is part of The Greatest Expedition series that I was so fortunate to be able to collaborate with amongst nineteen thought leaders from around the country. Each author and each resource offer precious golden nuggets of wisdom and next bold steps for this post-modern and post-pandemic culture the church finds itself needing to navigate. Innovating for Love is no exception and very timely for conversations that are occurring at many church council meetings of late.
Often, church leaders and pastors are a bit adverse to the word innovation when it comes to the church. Criticism about innovation may come in pushback such as the gospel hasn’t changed, so why should how we do church need to change. Or innovation is about business, not about the church. I even had a young pastor scoff recently when I used the word innovation suggesting that innovation is just the latest trend in church revitalization language. But true Christian social innovation is about adding sacred value to the lives of the people in the community the church is called to serve and share Jesus. It goes well beyond strategic plans, simply a tenant in the building, or the latest buzz words and trends. It is about loving the people in the church’s mission field as Jesus taught us to love.
In the Greatest Expedition series book, Innovating for Love: Christian Social Innovation,Creasy-Dean describes Christian social innovation in this way (page 53): “The impetus for Christian social innovation is not having a great idea, maximizing productivity, or needing to survive. We innovate for love in order to give shape to a prophetic imagination, and to embody a vision for human flourishing patterned after Jesus, whose way of being human is the template for our own.”
In my consulting work, there is often the controversy about whether the church is or should be a business or whether a ministry or innovation can be profitable for the benefit of or reinvestment into the ministry. I think the answer is a definite YES! It is not either/or. It is both. And, our roots are founded in such history and logic. Wesley was a Christian social innovator. He created businesses that provided jobs for the poor. He launched a publishing business. When a community had the need for medical care, it was the Methodists who built the hospitals. The Methodists also provided the much-needed orphanages and schools. The church needs to become a vital part of the community. It is when we separate the two that the church becomes insular and loses relevancy and competency for how to reach the people in our mission field. It is both an investment in the people and for the people because we want to love like Jesus loved.
If you are ready to begin your journey of innovating for love, consider Creation Incubator for your guide. From asset mapping, discerning, analyzing, and walking alongside leaders and congregations, the experienced practitioners at Creation Incubator will be your constant companions and cheerleaders every step of the way.