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Monday, December 06, 2004

Innovators, Early Adopters, Early/Late Majority, Laggards: Which are You?

Lightbulb Has your church participated in a 40 Days of Purpose Campaign?

Or even a 40 Days of Community Campaign?

Does your church use video projection, or evan IMAG in your services?

Are you using multi-service/ multi-format (worship) approach?

Are you a 'one church in multiple locations' multi-site' church or are you considering it?

Do you use terms such as 'seeker sensitive' or 'seeker targeted' without even thinking?

New ideas. New philosophies. New programs. New formats. New ways of doing church. How many of the above questions did you answer 'yes' to? All of these issues are fairly new in the 21st century church. But how did these trends come about? Where do they come from? How did they start? And why do we find that so many churches are taking the same 'new' approach in so many areas? I find this subject fascinating, and we'll be digging deeper into the whole idea of innovation in the church for the next few Mondays here in MMI and in the MMI blog.

There is a fairly well recognized theory by Everett Rogers in the business and marketing worlds about how new ideas eventually get implemented to our everyday lives. This theory holds true in many areas; from our cultural fads, consumer buying habits... and even our church life. Here's the premise:

For any new idea, there is a group of innovators. Innovators are defined as the first 5-10% of the people who first adopt any given idea. They are the ones who usually come up with the idea in the first place and refine the idea so that it is something that works. Innovators are venturesome; they are the most willing group to try something new and take the initial risk to try something out. They are also influencers... they keep in contact with many others in their area of expertise.

The next group, the early adopters are about 10-15% of us. These people are the trend-setters. They are the ones who are aggressively looking for new ideas to implement. They might not be the ones coming up with the ideas or innovations, but they have their eye on the innovators to see what they will do next. They'll quickly snatch up an innovators idea and test it out themselves.

The early majority (about 30% of us) wait a little longer to make our decision. Actually, if they're not actively searching out new ideas (like the early adopters)they might wait to see the first bit of advertising on a product or service, or get the recommendation of a friend before they jump in. But still, they want to be in on the ground floor. Early majority people still consider themselves 'cutting-edge', they just want to make sure the idea has worked out in some other places before they try it.

The late majority (another 30% of us) wait still longer to get on the band wagon. They still get on... some are excited, some are skeptical. But by this stage of the game, there is growing pressure to 'not miss out'.

The last group, the laggards, (about 20% of us) are true traditionalists. They are generally not interested in new ideas/products and are the last group of us to buy into new ideas.

Does this model hold up for the first group of questions I stated above? I think it does to a large degree. Let's take the "40 Days of Purpose" campaign for example.

INNOVATORS: Rick Warren & Saddleback Church

EARLY ADOPTERS: The very first churches that did the campaign

EARLY MAJORITY: Those churches that have already completed the campaign

LATE MAJORITY: Those churches who are signed up to do a future campaign

LAGGARDS: Those churches who will do the campaign in 2006-2007 or never

Now, of course, there are some churches who will never do the 40 days of purpose campaign for various reasons (theological, philosophical, they don't like Rick Warren, etc.) That doesn't mean they are laggards in every area. (So I'm not using this scenario as a blanket statement for everyone).

Where do you consider yourself and your church (note: You might be in a different group as a leader than what your church is in)? Do you agree with the above scenario or innovators, early adoptors, etc.? If not, what is your theory? Please give your ideas below. I'd like to hear from as many of you as possible today. I'll use many of your thoughts and ideas as I develop this series.

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I am the Associate Pastor for Family Ministries at FBC in Huntsville, TX. I would consider myself an innovator much of the time. I have implemented a unique format for students to proclaim their faith publically and allow Youth Ministries to partner on a monthly basis. This is a youth gathering called Neutral Ground. It is comprised of area churches joining forces to exalt the name of Jesus through high-energy music, drama, prayer, scripture reading and student challenges. It is completely student-led and you will never see an adult or student minister on stage. It's all for the students as they take roles of leadership and get what they are really missing...that is, each other. We are running a couple hundred students and are even seeing "fringe" students get a little closer to the cross. Please feel free to check out the Neutral Ground homepage at www.NeutralGroundMinistries.com anytime. Neutral Ground offers hope for every frustrated youth minister and would like to help tear down those invisible barriers that seem to exist in most coummunities. Thank you for such great articles and resources for people like me. You are a Difference Maker! Bryan McNair - FBC - Huntsville, TX (www.fbchuntsville.org)

Posted by: Bryan | Dec 6, 2004 11:18:08 AM

I am and will remain a laggard. I will remain biblical in my approach to church growth.

Ivan Schoen
Westosha Baptist Church
Bassett, WI

Posted by: Ivan | Dec 6, 2004 12:52:44 PM

Ivan,

Why is being a 'laggard' the only thing you consider biblical? I don't understand.

Todd

PS -- Also, I wanted to clarify that I am not endorsing that all churches should have done or do the 40 days campaign. I used that for illustrative purposes only. Not every church uses every innovation. My point was that we all use many of the same ideas from a select few innovators. (That can be either good or bad). I didn't mean to say that you're bad if you don't participate in the newest program or fad. And being a laggard is fine. But again, I'm puzzled as to why a laggard would think that this was the only biblical position. Any other laggards out there besides Ivan care to chime in?

Thanks! Todd
MMI Blog Administrator

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Dec 6, 2004 12:58:59 PM

the biblically grounded, spirit-filled church is built to be innovative by design since its reliance is on the Most High God- knower of the future and our deepest human needs.
sadly, our usually traditions-based church culture for quite awhile now has fostered an exile of true 'innovators' to places like the foreign mission field, para-church ministries and the secular workplace (either for or non-profit).
most innovative leadership in the established church is closer to how you defined early-adoptors/early majority and this suffices for relative innovation. i think we see lots of micro-innovation (again, a characteristic of the early-adoptors/early majority) within defined parameters but very few true 'out of the box' innovations (i.e. something someone outside of vocational ministry would look at and say 'wow, that's innovative! maybe something like that would help our company/country, etc") PLEASE see this as an observation to react to, not prescriptive condemnation to be defensive about.
whatever innovation we see in the established church is usually the work of 3 or 4 true innovators nationally that gets rapidly disseminated/adopted by eager early-adoptors/early majority across the country. the problem is that this type of behavior is masking the lack of true innovators within the church. most organizations suffer this cyclically because the dominant majority of people prefer stasis but non-church organizations are usually more hospitable to true innovators than we are.
we have as a church become comfortable with such a small number of true innovators challenging the church and this is a sad acclimation for sure. what if we as a generation, reclaimed our early church roots of unquestioned dependence on God, living lives that attracted persecution, having non-believers calling us Jesus-like and establishing and embracing a tradition of biblical change.
hope this wasn't a waste of your time todd... please react! (sorry for the length?)

Posted by: joon | Dec 6, 2004 1:34:35 PM

Joon,

I agree with most of what you said! My hope is that churches would become more innovative on their own, but as you said, that's hard to make happen many times at the local church level.

Again, I'm not saying that having national innovators is a good or a bad thing. I think much good can (and has) come; but also much more could spring up from the church locally. Most smaller churches (again, not EVERY, but most that I've seen) look to the larger regional churches in their area to see what they're doing that's successful. These same larger regional churches are looking to larger regional or national ministries to see what's working. To an extent, it's always been done this way; but with the internet and publishing houses getting in the game, the rise of national phenomenons like '40 days' or 'Jabez' will come and go much more quickly than before.

Any thoughts? Who would you all categorize as national and regional innovators? Here's a few I can think of just off the top of my head:

Willowcreek/Hybels: seeker-sensitive
Saddleback/Warren: purpose-driven
Fellowship/Ed Young: creativeness
North Coast/Larry Osborne: video venues

Regional Innovators/Early Adopters:
SeaCoast Church (SC)
Granger Community Church (IN)
Life Church (OK)
Point of Grace Church (IA)

Just a start of some of the obvious ones. Who would you nominate?

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Dec 6, 2004 1:47:03 PM

Friends,
Here are two quotes from above that demonstrate the greater damage affecting the ministry of the Church today:

“I am and will remain a laggard. I will remain biblical in my approach to church growth.”

AND

“the biblically grounded, spirit-filled church is built to be innovative by design since its reliance is on the Most High God”

Until the church comes to the point that God works through his body in many ways we will continue to argue over “style” and “approach” to ministry. As a result we will damage the very work we are tying to see accomplished – people coming into a true relationship with Jesus Christ.

As a pastor I understand that my church is not the place for everyone! But that doesn’t mean God isn’t using my gifts to minister to people. Like the Church down the street, they minister to others in the Body of Christ – but I don’t sit back and condemn them as “unbiblical” because they don’t do it how God is leading me!

I understand the Purpose Driven Church – But what about the Spirit Directed Church? I believe that is all Rick was trying to do at Saddleback! Here is the point - if you feel led by the Spirit to use new approaches to minister to those in your care then by all means “obey the Spirit.” If the Spirit is leading you to hold on to the approach you are using and which has served your church effectively for years then by all means “obey the Spirit.”

Each of us is tying to obey the Spirit in following the Great Commission – lets agree that the most important issue to all our programs and efforts is the Fruit of those efforts – if they reflect the “Fruit of the Spirit” in the lives of those entrusted to us – then we both are on the right track.

Posted by: Al | Dec 6, 2004 1:52:31 PM

Todd,

I agree with the assessment of the progression of people as they join a new movement or process. I am not so sure about the labels attached to each group. I find that we are too quick to label people today. We have tags for people born in certain eras, tags for people who are the first to jump on the bandwagons, etc., etc. etc. There could be other factors involved than just being more cautious about when to join in some popular movement. Yet, one thing really serves as a splinter under my skin about the reasonings why people join in certain movements or new Christian methodologies. The supreme motivation seems to be methodological, pragmatic, or sheer popularity, instead of truly Spirit-led. Rick Warren's 40 Days of Purpose is fabulous. I believe he is a man of endowed wisdom from God. And now the SBC has a program entitled 40 Day Experience:EKG, the Heartbeat of God. Too often, I believe the church (as an institution) sways toward the tendency of trendiness. If it is hot and shows promise and results, then we all should jump aboard the train and ride it until it stops or until we see a faster train coming alongside. I recently finished a book by Os Guiness, The Call, and in there he talked about the progression from Christ to Christian to Christianity. Those who followed Christ did not call themselves Christians, they simply referred to themselves as followers of the Way. The Christian tag came from the surrounding community of non-followers. I have been questioning myself and the practices of the modern church heavily in recent months. In some instances I think we are doing the right things, but in the wrong order. Our priorities are off kilter. I hope that this message does not come across as negative, but as thought-provoking. I love the church, and Christ died for the church, but we must continue to be followers of the Way, not trends and pragmatic success stories. What is the answer? I don't know, but I will continue to seek and search and call attention to priorities that are not in line with Christ and His word.

Posted by: Michael Julian | Dec 6, 2004 1:54:14 PM

Michael, I agree. And for churches to do the trendy thing just to do the trendy thing is wrong; and to be honest a waste of time.

Realistically, there are many things at play here... what started as a program Rick Warren started at his local church caught fire and became a national phenomenon. I don't think Rick ever imagined that would happen (at least to the extent that it happened).

When things like this happens, it also creates (out of necessity) an organization to faciliate and support the program. I've been in Purpose-Driven's office, and it's amazing the amount of people that it takes to carry on an organization that size.

Then publishers (and denominations) see the success and try to duplicate it. We saw this with Jabez and 40 days. Some of the new stuff that comes out is good, others are hastily put together hopefuls.

I do hear one thing come up in the conversation so far and that is being "spirit lead". (Al also mentioned this). What works in Lake Forest may not work in Cheboygan at your particular church. And then again, it may! That's where the local pastor and staff need to be spirit lead. Are these new national ideas or 'innovations' something that can effect my local church positively. Or is there something I can create that would be just as innovative and minister to my community better than what's nationally available.

My bottom line (at least at this point)... national innovation is great, but I'd sure like to see more innovation at the local church level than I do now. But as was previously said in a post... that's a hard thing to ask for in much of today's local church climate.

Hopefully I didn't muddy the water any! :)

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Dec 6, 2004 2:06:09 PM

There is a "mega church wanna be" syndrome in our churches today. So many churches are looking at the big churches (big meaning better?!) and doing what they did to get big. Moses had his burning bush - but some churches just want to enjoy the vision God gave someone else. I'd like to see God do a NEW thing in His church. Not just people copying what Saddleback or Willowcreek - or Calvary Chapel is doing.

Posted by: Diane | Dec 6, 2004 2:33:32 PM

Innovation is a tricky word because what one church considers innovation another will see as formula. If we do "A"+"B" then we will get "C", or in many cases, a successful church. Innovation, for the sake of itself, is never a valid reason to introduce it to the body. On the other hand, a Pastoral team who sees new trends surface in the church and has the wisdom to prayerfully seek God's direction, timing and method of delivery is wise beyond the 15 minutes of fame many "successful" Pastors experience. The heart of this argument is not "Does God bless innovators?" but "What does the heart of the Leadership look like, how does it respond, is it driven by performance and acceptance, or a deep sense of security in who God is, what he has called the church to and the needs of each congregation?"

Innovation can belike a zerox of a copy of a duplication of an original. Often it is unable to capture the intensity or impact of the original because the original is a result of a leader in tune with God's direction and the needs of his congregation fueled by his own passions and gifts. Be innovative by not doing what every other mega church in the nation is doing. Seek God for direction not seek a book for a program to implement.

Posted by: Shane Montgomery | Dec 6, 2004 2:40:06 PM

I love the labels. Interesting that we are still attaching them to folks. Let me be trite for a moment, "I wonder if Jesus would label us?" Maybe -- maybe not. After all, He did not have wonderful things to say about the ruling elite religious class. At least you are not calling me a whitewashed tomb... or viper...

I appreciate Warren's ministry and his approach, but I do not appreciate the use of so many different translations without appropriate context. In fact, I found it a distraction to an otherwise very introspective book. (It caused me to be introspective!) I would not use it in my church unless it was in a small group with a gifted leader to deciper the passages-- contextually.

Better never than late,

J

Posted by: Jay C. Burgman | Dec 6, 2004 2:50:25 PM

Ivan cannot be a complete laggard. After all, he just posted in the blogosphere!

Posted by: C.R. Ewfan | Dec 6, 2004 3:18:37 PM

CR

Good observation! :-)

Posted by: Al | Dec 6, 2004 5:07:01 PM

Dear Todd;
First let me thank you for Monday morning Insight. It is now part of me recuperation routine following Sundays. The several stages you listed are not new to me. I heard them years ago from a fund raising consultant who was talking about the way the congregation would react to a capital campaign, in the same ways as you listed leadership styles. What that did for me was to give members space and time to adapt to new ways and not get frustrated at the slow adapters. I am clearly an innovator type, but really need the others around me for depth and balance,
Peace, Don

Posted by: Don Johnson | Dec 6, 2004 6:12:31 PM

uh, sadly, none of my book references made it onto the post (i posted them in the wrong type of brackets... man, i've forgotten so much html). at the end of my 2nd paragraph i submit ChurchNext by Gibbs (talks about the relationship between innovative people and the church) and after my 4th paragraph i submit the Church on the Other Side by McClaren (talks about importing innovation from someone else which i think address al's issue w/ my post?) sorry 'bout jacking that up y'all.

Posted by: joon | Dec 6, 2004 6:27:16 PM

I don't know where I fit, I guess it depends on the "program" or "idea". I'd like to think of myself as an innovator on a small scale (in my own church) but I find that after checking out my ideas or looking for similar ideas from other churches/ministries, that I'm not all that innovative. Someone else always seems to be doing something almost identical to my church. Which it totally ok. I actually see it as a confirmation. I personally stay away from the trendy campaigns and programs. I've found that my church and many like ours try to implement what some huge/mega/para church in some totally diferent region is doing. And when it doesn't come close to meeting the results the campaign had elsewhere the "early majority" feel like failures and the "laggards" feel triumphant!

Posted by: Shannon | Dec 6, 2004 8:14:44 PM

In our hearts, I think we know why Ivan, as a "laggard," regards his outlook as Biblical. John warns us not to believe every "spirit," but to "try the spirits whether they are of God." Novel approaches and means can bring with them just as much an alien "spirit" as erroneous doctrine. Trying the spirits requires time to study and meditate them. Hence, while we may appear "laggards," we are merely being sober and vigilant. Ivan is right.

Posted by: Charles | Dec 6, 2004 8:46:05 PM

I really do not understand the question?
And I really do not like the insinuation!

All I really need to know about church growth is in what book?

Are you really insinuating that Rick Warrens word is more relavent today than the Bible?

I like some of Saddlebacks policies, don’t like others. What works one place may not work in another. What works in Calif. is not always understood in back woods Georgia.

I don’t like the new seeker sensitive movement, O I like to be seeker sensitive but I always have to remember the true Power is in His Word not in a man made program!!!

To much is given to outside reading and not enough on good old Bible study.
I like outside reading my self but when we seek answers to our ministry questions from mans point of view, shame on us……We need to get on our knees and pray and seek the answer in His Word……

By the way, the Church has survived for 2000 years and went through many culture and changing of the times………without Rick Warren.

I am not criticizing Rick Warren he has great accomplishments, I like his work and have read most of them……

The real danger here, that I see, is the pattern of looking outside the Bible for our answers to Biblical questions.

The Bible is all I really need…………….and that’s all folks

I will continue to read outside material, but my confidence is in Him not in him.

Posted by: Jerry | Dec 6, 2004 8:57:30 PM

OK... Todd here again.

The last two posts (Jerry and Charles) bring up great points... and still no one has answered my question from before. :(

First of all, I thought that I had gone out of my way to make this part clear. I do not think Rick Warren is God; nor do I think he is the antichrist. Jerry wrote, "Are you really insinuating that Rick Warrens word is more relavent today than the Bible?" No! Absolutely not... (and where did you get that from?)

Now, back to my question I asked before... why do those who consider themselves laggards (and are darn proud of it!) consider any 'innovation' to be evil or at the very least, of no value? I agree that with Charles that we should "try the spirits whether they are of God." But that doesn't mean that every spirit is NOT of God.

I agree with much of what you say, Jerry, but I'm not recommending throwing out the Bible for man's programs. Innovations are just aids to help us better acheive our main purpose. Today's innovations may be technological, video oriented, computer based, or even come from a mega church. Yesterday's innovations included Sunday School quarterlies, Strong's concordance and electric organs (seriously).

And whether of not you use current 'innovations' really does not make one bit of difference to me. Really it doesn't. As long as you keep the main thing the main thing.

Which brings me to my question one more time... if we are keeping the main thing the main thing, why are those opposed to anything new always confrontational and in the face of those who are using new methods, while still keeping the main thing the main thing? And then, on top of that, quoting scripture to say that you are the only ones that are right?

Todd

(PS -- I like debate like this... I realize everyone does not. If you don't, then obviously this blog isn't a good place for you. But this whole thing is hinging on something I've noticed among pastors for a long time now. (Hold on a sec... let me put on my helmet). OK. I've noticed that it seems that many pastors from churches that have reached their plateau or are in decline are many times very critical of churches larger than themselves, or growing churches that are using any type of innovative ministry to reach the lost. Alright, I've said it. :) I think this hits at the core of the whole innovation subject that I've brought up.

Again, my goal is not to enrage or inflame. I just would like to understand the other side (the Ivans, Jerrys and Charles of the world) without it being made into a biblical/non-biblical issue. Because to me, it just isn't; again, as long as we're keeping the main thing the main thing.

Alright... I'm ready for your response. :)

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Dec 6, 2004 9:51:48 PM

Why reinvent the wheel? I learned in Bible college that "all truth is God's truth."

If God has given someone wisdom, creativity, and knowledge to use some set of principles (as long as they are grounded in the Bible) to advance the Kingdom of God I would be a fool to not at least ask the question "is this something we can/should do here." I pastor a church of 50. We are having a hard time finding people to teach midweek boys/girls clubs - it would be impossible for us to produce some of the innovative things that Saddleback, WC, Fellowship, New Life Church, etc. produce.

Why not use them? What keeps us pastors of plateued/dying churches from using something that works somewhere else? One word: pride! God forbid He would give an innovative idea to the entire body of Christ instead of just one church here, another church there. I will use whatever works no matter who comes up with it (I am AG and love PDC - a program from an SBC dude) as long as it is Biblical.

Posted by: Art Good | Dec 6, 2004 10:14:37 PM

I have observed in evangelical Christianity the following tendency: Someone has a breakthrough in his own spiritual life or in his church and, in his enthusiasm and excitement, writes a book or offers seminars advocating his new program or system. It has worked for him. Why shouldn’t it work for others — for everyone, for that matter? [The problem right here is, “It worked” — not, “God worked.”] The message soon spreads and becomes, "If you want to become more spiritual/holy, build your church, win the lost, or whatever, here is the program for you. Just follow these few simple steps, and the rewards will be yours." The person who was the innovator may have been a godly individual seeking God's answer, or he may have had a degree in marketing and assumed that the principles and methods that are successful in the secular market place must surely work in the church. Too many of us don’t bother to search out the motivating force behind the “new program.” What’s worse, the reason these "new methods" become so popular is often because too many of us want to shortcut God’s process and use someone else's results rather than patiently endure the pursuit for ourselves. Ultimately, if God does not do the work — whether in our hearts, in the church, or among the lost — it doesn't get done, no matter what program or system we use. And, very often, He chooses to use extremely unlikely methods to bring people to faith. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Co. 4:7).

Having grown up with this evangelical heritage, I have found for myself a deeper sense of worship in liturgical tradition (why has that often become a “dirty word?) that goes back to the very early church, and even to the Old Testament. I find comfort in the cloud of witnesses that have gone before me, and I am not alone. The Canterbury and Orthodox Trails are heavily traveled by a great number of evangelicals.

I recognize that “tradition” is not for everyone. Neither are the most recent fads. If we are to grow, we must all have our own personal Peniel where we wrestle with God. Much as we would like the opposite to be true, there is no shortcut.

Posted by: Jeanette T. Brookes | Dec 7, 2004 12:47:24 AM

Todd--
It's Charles again ("Try the spirits, whether they be of God").
I think you are assuming that a "laggard" is one who NEVER accepts innovation in order to cling to tradition. Not so. If I understand the definition, a laggard is merely the LAST to climb on board, retaining the option not to climb on at all if Biblical light cannot be shed. Within that framework, we need laggards in our midst. Also, we should not assume that laggards are laggards because they have small or "plateaued" churches. Remember Christ's warning to beware the day that we are accepted of all men. On that issue, the Master was a bit of a laggard Himself.

Posted by: Charles | Dec 7, 2004 8:02:12 AM

Charles,

Thanks for the clarification. I think we've both misread the other slightly. Absolutely, laggards are needed; and there's nothing wrong with being a laggard. My comment was geared at the laggards that, as you say, won't embrace any new ideas. You are obviously not one of them. It is wise to not jump on every bandwagon; and to use discernment. And different people take longer on that road.

I've been doing some thinking; and I think my initial post was confusing. I was interchanging 'innovation' and 'trend'. Those are not the same thing. I think that Rick Warren would not consider purpose driven to be incredibly innovative; but it sure has turned out to be a trend. Innovation is one thing to one person, and something entirely different to another.

I also wish I would have not used 40 days as an example. It is a rather poor example of what I was trying to illustrate.

There are some out there who are much more up on trends and innovation in the church... I hope some of them will jump in here and save me! :)

Here's to a great day! (It's still early!)

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Dec 7, 2004 8:13:15 AM

In many ways I would say I am an innovator, but perhaps not in the above described situation. I am careful to hear and know for myself that a direction is God for me personally, our youth group or the church as a body.

In the above mentioned senerios, I guess I would have to say that I am a laggard. Not because I am resistant to change. I am very flexible to anything God wants. However; I am very careful to follow after the leading of God's spirit over main stream opinions or fads.

Perhaps that in itself can even be innovative in some aspect. Think about it. If everyone is going one way, but you choose to have the courage to be different.

Afterall, isn't that what we try to teach our children, not to follow the crowd for the sake of following the crowd? To think for themselves and make good Godly choices?

Please understand I am not saying any of the above mentioned ministries are not good or Godly choices, that is not my point. However; I do feel that we as believers have an individual responsibility to seek the Lord for His direction and obey His leading no matter what is popular else where. What does God want for you?

Also, I believe everything we do is a heart thing. Are we making these changes for numbers sake, more money or do we truly care about reaching more lost souls?

Many would say certaily it is about the souls. Not so fast, is it? Is it in every case? Remember, it's a heart thing.
It's a heart choice, what I mean by that is, check your motive. Are your motives pure? If not, repent and ask the Lord to get your heart right, then perhaps it may be His will to lead you in that way or He may still have other plans for you.

Let me say this, If God is leading you in this main stream way, then you should obey. But if you are in a church that is moving in a direction that you do not feel is God's plan for your life, then perhaps you need to be in a body where you have a like vision.

How can two walk together unless they be agreed? Either you will hinder the work God is doing in that place, because of your resistance. Or you may hinder the work in your own life by not being in the place that God has purposed for you to accomplish the most Kingdom good.

To incapsulate my thoughts, I know that it is quite possible to be an innovator or even an early adapter or an early majority without being someone who blindly follows the masses.

I also think that being a laggard is not always a bad word. Sometimes this choice comes from life experieces and being taught by God how to restrain yourself from moving too quickly. Perhaps it could even be called... Wisdom.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

Reesa Ragland
Youth Director
Children's ministries
Amite, La.
URL:exit-3.i-55.com/~devilfoe
reesa@i-55.com


PS... I noticed this section begins by giving the example of facts and terms used in the business world. I believe we must use caution in mixing anything that the secular population does or says with our Biblical truths.

We are not of the world. Psalms chapter one tells us to seek not the counsel of the ungodly because their counsel will always be in direct opposition to what the WORD has to say.

The world doesn't understand forgiving your enemies, their counsel would be to avenge yourself. The world doesn't understand tithing, their counsel again would be self preservation.

So while we should not throw out everything we learn while in this world, (like how to tie your shoes) neither should we want a mixture of ever changing world beliefs with the ONE TRUE THING that is NEVER CHANGING and is ALWAYS TRUE.

GOD'S WORD!!!!! : )

Posted by: Reesa Ragland | Dec 7, 2004 8:56:53 AM

One thing that fascinates me is that we're still taking a "what worked for me will work for you" approach to ministry.

I don't blame Rick Warren, Ted Haggard, Bill Hybels, or anyone else for running church the way they do. In their areas and cultures, it is effective to do ministry the way they do. We are all called to innovate ways to reach the specific peoples we've been sent to. However, everything doesn't always work everywhere. I've seen Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive, and Life Giving churches all fail. I've seen Calvary Chapels never get above 30 members. Why? Because the method is only as good as it's relation to the culture it is implemented in.

In my city, there is a large diversity of people. Many different cultures are represented. Many different financial situations exist. One paradigm of ministry is simply not enough to reach this whole city. It's a well-known fact that a large majority of church plant attempts fail here. Why? Because there is a lack of understanding of the unique challenges of this particular region. People come from thousands of miles away to plant their church, only to realize that what worked in Kentucky, New York, Oregon, etc, does not necessarily fly in Tucson. I think if we really looked at who lives where we live, we'd do church a lot differently. If you look carefully, this is what Rick Warren actually did. All of the work he's doing now is because he primed his church to reach his local area, and tweaked accordingly. I really don't think he ever intended to be the national celebrity he is. It happened to him because of his effectiveness in the culture he lived in.

May we learn to build churches relevant to the location and culture they're in, for the purpose of winning and transforming that culture.

Posted by: John Morris | Dec 7, 2004 10:05:59 AM

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