Innovation is defined as the introduction of new things or methods. Some call it “cutting edge”, “state of the art”, or “contemporary”.

Regardless of the terminology, innovation is widely embraced across many domains of society. The world of business is full of entrepreneurs looking for the next “big idea”. The medical field is open to many new ideas that advance the cure of deadly diseases or shorten the healing process. We are all familiar with the rapid advancement and innovative ideas that have arrived on our doorstep through technology. Even in sports innovation is seen as a positive thing. But mention the word to a group of independent Baptists, and some will assume that you are a compromiser of the truth.

Sadly, there are those who lean so hard away from innovation in church ministry that they become inflexible and unable to change in ways that are biblical, God-honoring, and involve no compromise.
For example, if a younger pastor attempts to further the cause of Christ with a community outreach event, such as a neighborhood barbecue hosted by his church, a more seasoned pastor may comment that “we’ve never done it that way before.” Even the subtlest change in the worship service can become a point for criticism by those who are holding the “old line.”
When we refuse to allow for innovation we begin to die. We should not be sending the message to the next generation of church planters and pastors who are biblical, faith-filled, thinking men, that we have already done the thinking for them. These young men are the present, the future, and the hope of our movement! Certainly, we must pass along the convictional truths, and biblical foundations that have made our movement strong. But we must not remove from the hands and hearts of the next generation the opportunity to implement God-given vision. That will make our movement weak.
Now we need to understand that there are checks and balances. In the remainder of this article you will find a brief, but not exhaustive, summary of ways in which innovation is a blessing in church planting ministry, as well as some of the dangers that are inherent when new methods are employed without biblical parameters.
I. Innovation is a Blessing to Church Planting Ministry

Let’s begin with the blessings. When is innovation a blessing?


  1. When it is a means of better facilitating the God-given purposes of the church.


Paul expected Timothy to be doctrinally sound, uncompromising in conviction, and godly in character. But he also understood that Timothy would have to be who God made him to be. Therefore, Paul challenged him to “exercise thyself . . . unto godliness” I Tim.4:7; to “Let no man despise thy youth” I Tim. 4:12; and to “stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” II Tim. 1:6

Paul understood that Timothy would be his own man, and he did not steer him away from that individuality. Rather, he encouraged Timothy to focus his unique calling and gifts toward being the best leader he could be. Timothy’s individuality would naturally lead him to some innovation.

The right kind of innovation will always be driven by a desire to facilitate ministry that is more effective, biblical, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Innovation for innovation sake will never be right, but innovation with God’s purposes in mind will be divinely blessed and used of God.


  1. When it revitalizes and refreshes a ministry program that is neglected or dying.


Have you ever considered that a particular way of doing ministry is not working in the context of your ministry? Now if you are hitting a home run every time you step up to bat, keep doing it! But that is not reality for most of us.

Over the course of twenty years of pastoral ministry in the greater Toronto area I came to the conclusion several times that the way we were going about ministry was not facilitating the type of growth and involvement among our church family that God desired. So, we needed to ask, “Do we continue with the way things have always been done, or do we make changes?”

In one instance we moved from the standard Saturday morning soulwinning outreach to a program called NETS that would enable us to facilitate every member, anytime evangelism. Instead of Saturday we staged our soulwinning meeting once a month on Sunday evenings, and asked for a minimum monthly commitment in the area of personal evangelism. Instantly, the participation level went from ten to one hundred! Much more was being accomplished in terms of advancing the gospel.

Why do we have trouble admitting that we are failing? Why is it we are too stubborn to change even when there are good biblical ways to do it differently?

The right kind of innovation can breathe life into a ministry that is otherwise on life support.


  1. When it helps church members to better understand their responsibility and opportunity for service in the church.


Where things do not change, and there is a lack of innovative ministry, over time things become stale. The tendency is for church members to become disinterested and apathetic towards church ministry. They are not being challenged to attempt something greater for the cause of Christ.

A refreshed and innovative approach to the soulwinning, or discipleship programs serves notice that the church cares about the vitality of those ministries. It is like applying a fresh coat of paint to a room. It can bring things back to life, and reenergize God’s people to serve Him!

Before we conclude let’s consider the other side of this coin as we look at the dangers inherent in the wrong kind of innovation.

II. The Dangers of Innovation in Church Planting Ministry We must be intellectually honest and careful to acknowledge there are some dangers that can creep into innovative ministry. I have listed a few that we should carefully contemplate.

  1. The danger of violating Biblical precepts and principles.


We should understand this implicitly, but it still needs restating in the most explicit of terms. There is a danger of getting so caught up in new trends and innovation that we overstep the boundaries of what is pure, and modest and appropriate in a biblical sense.

There must be standards for everything from our dress to our music. Those standards are a representation of our biblical convictions. They are a representation of what we believe about God. While there is room for variance on where we draw the line, there can be no variance on the fact that we must draw a line.

Younger men must be careful to listen and glean what they can from seasoned men in the ministry. They should seek to understand why certain positions were held, and stands were taken.


It is the wrong sort of innovation that leads us away from Biblical standards of separation.


  1. The danger of becoming dependent on innovation more than we are dependent upon God.


We can subtly gravitate to the thinking that our success in ministry depends upon our new programs, methods and innovations. And to be perfectly balanced on this issue our success does not depend on the old, so called “tried and true” methods either. God is not in need of our programs old or new to breathe out His power and blessing upon the work.

It is a grave mistake to think that innovation is a replacement for the power of God upon our lives and ministry.


  1. The danger of innovating for purely pragmatic reasons.


Pragmatism is the idea of implementing something simply because it works, or gets results.

Perhaps there is pressure to keep up with ministry trends, so we mimic the innovations of others. We take note of the outward or statistical success that other ministries enjoy, and wrongly believe if we copy their program we will enjoy similar results.


Concluding Thoughts

If you were Moses, would you expect Joshua to follow your ministry methods of bringing water from the rock, and fashioning brass serpents? Would you understand that God designed your ministries to be unique?

God called Moses to a ministry of deliverance, but appointed Joshua to a ministry of conquest. Both were godly, faith-filled, spirit-led men. Yet it would have been folly for Joshua to seek to duplicate the methods of Moses, and it would have been unwise for Moses to mandate it.

In similar ways today, God calls men and designs them for unique contexts within His work. He expects us to be biblical men filled with faith and conviction. He desires us to follow Him into an innovative and effective ministry rather than to blindly follow the methods of those who walked before us or mimic the ideas of those who walk beside us.

We should not discount the convictional contribution of the past generation, nor should we dismiss the spirit-filled innovation of the present generation.

We can be conventional without becoming clichéd. We can be contemporary without being compromisers.


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The biblical example is for local churches to reproduce local churches. This example is for both an established local church and for a local church in the process of being established. A church plant should focus on reproducing herself as she focuses on establishing herself. One method of doing so is through using an intern. Below you will find some helpful thoughts on this subject.
1. Who is a candidate to be an intern?
  • The biblical requirements set by God for pastoring a church should be upheld when seeking an intern. Often, a church planting pastor will welcome any help. However, no help is worse than unbiblical or bad help.
  • The intern should be someone who walks with God. Church planting is the front-line work of God. He will be tested repeatedly.
  • The intern should be someone who senses God’s call to be a church planter.
  • The intern and his wife must demonstrate a strong, determined work ethic. Their faithfulness will be tested. Their energy will be stretched.


2. How to choose an intern?
  • Primarily seek the Lord and His peace. Take your time and do not be in a hurry. Pray and fast.
  • The intern and his wife should visit the work for at least ten days (more if possible). During that time the church planting pastor must realistically show the intern what to expect in the ministry he will be joining. This survey time will aid in preventing an intern arriving and leaving within a year which hurts families in the church in the process.
  • The church planting pastor must be upfront and honest with the intern. Will the church plant pay the intern? Will the intern need to work a secular job? What responsibilities will the intern carry?
  • Ensure that the intern’s wife and children are on board with the position. If the wife and children are not in agreement, the intern will struggle immensely and ultimately fade away.
3. Practical advice in using an intern.
  • The church planting pastor should create a contract for the intern. The contract should clearly state all responsibilities, state the amount of salary (if applicable), and a designated extent of time of service with the church planting pastor before the intern leaves the current ministry or begins deputation to plant another local church. The contract should also include a statement regarding the willingness of the intern to follow the church planting pastor’s direction in the timing of reproducing a future church plant.
  • The church planting pastor should be sensitive to the intern’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs If the intern is part-time in the ministry and having to work a secular job, the tendency is to treat the intern as a full-time staff member with high expectations within the ministry; however, this can prove to be overwhelming and be discouraging to the intern and his family.
  • The church planting pastor should meet regularly with the intern to promote growth in the intern through prayer, Bible study, and book studies. Another benefit of meeting regularly is to ensure that the intern is completing his responsibilities.
  • The church planting pastor must constantly check up on the intern. They will be prone to wonder. They will not carry the same burden the church planting pastor carries for the people of the church plant. Realize this fact and help the intern to see the importance of the decisions he makes.
4. Struggles in using an intern.
  • The strain of the intern working a full-time or part-time job along with the ministry will become a struggle. The intern will grow weary. Dealing with those issues can be difficult.
  • The responsibility of administrating a staff member can be exhausting, especially for a church planting pastor in a young work.
  • The church planting pastor always runs the risk of being hurt by his “Timothy” in a variety of ways such as: abandoning the work, hurting church members through poor decisions, and planting a new work with a different philosophy of ministry.
5. Advantages of using an intern.
  • The fellowship an intern can provide for a church planting pastor and wife can be refreshing.
  • The man-power in the church plant will be welcomed and become extremely useful.
  • As the intern speaks of his future church plant and as the church planting pastor references the ultimate purpose of the intern, church planting is regularly in the minds of the local church. This focus will launch the church plant into reproducing itself naturally.

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Many times a church planter, because he is naturally a pioneer, will have a difficult time adjusting to the composition of a more established church. It is at this transition time that many decide to “move on” when they should “move up” in their relationship and commitment with the Lord.


1. Reasons for the adjustment
  • The church begins to “stabilize” and “settle”
  • Pastor is used to constantly evangelizing and motivating butnow has to spend more time visiting and nurturing. You are now more of a grower than a sower
  •  Pastor is now spending more time putting out fires. People = problems
  • Pastor has to spend more time studying to better “feed the flock” and focus on spiritual growth
  • Pastor has to switch from “doing it all himself” to “delegating”
  • Pastor has to “take the oversight” and trust others to do the work
  • Pastor goes from “people person” to “personal trainer”
  • Pastor realizes his work isn’t the day of Pentecost but will take time to grow just like everyone else’s church



2. Reactions to the adjustment
  • Frustration with the situation
    • Church isn’t growing as fast – numerically or spiritually
    • Congregation loses its zeal
    • Not as many members out soul-winning
    • Pastor is putting out more fires
    • Not as exciting because there are real issues to deal with
    • Wife sees her husband as a “baby-sitter.”
    • Pastor realizes he was too quick to announce he is “self-supporting” and to have churches cut support
  • Rethinking of a long-term ministry in that church
    • Pastor begins to think God is moving him on
    • Pastor and his wife question if the ministry is for them anymore
    • Pastor begins to prepare an exit strategy
3. Reasons to stay beyond the adjustment
  • Because God put you there – renew and reclaim your calling
  • Because God wants you to grow and mature with the church
  • Because you will see more fruit that remains
  • Because you can multiply more for world evangelism by staying and reproducing churches
  • Because you will learn to enjoy the fruit of your labor


4. Steps to making a successful adjustment
  • You and your wife make a spiritual decision to stay
  • Realize the church isn’t your church but it’s God’s church
  • Seek advice from others who have successfully transitioned
  • Focus on discipleship, training, and developing leadership
    • Preach and teach on serving
    • Focus on the mentoring the faithful members
    • Focus on one person at a time, don’t expect too much
    • Display areas of service and include new areas
    • Give a spiritual gift test
    • Meet with the faithful men on a regular bases in order to train and discuss church-related needs
    • Share your vision often
    • Bring on an intern or assistant
    • Pray that the Lord will give you patience and resolve

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All we have to do is look around us to see people who are hurting, who are looking for answers, and who are searching for the truth. As wives and mothers, we have so many opportunities to pass out a tract, speak a kind word to another lady or do a kind deed for someone. We are all commanded to go and tell the good news of the gospel of Christ to those we know or meet along life’s journey. As we have gotten involved in Gospel Light Baptist Church in Rogers, AR, our hearts have been challenged to share the gospel more faithfully. It is wonderful to be with a church family so concerned about the lost. We often realize the need to refresh ourselves in this area. Some years ago, I was at a conference, and I shared Ephesians 6:10-20 with the ladies. These verses remind us that we are in a battle for the Lord. Even as wives and mothers, we are to be prepared for this battle. We must all do our part to get the gospel out so we can see souls saved.

In Ephesians 6:13 we read, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” If we are going to be prepared to stand, we must put on the armour of God’s Word in our lives. We need to have a daily walk with the Lord in Bible reading and prayer. We should also have ourselves surrendered to do whatever God asks of us each day. We should want to be like Christ and be reflecting His love through our lives. We should also make sure our lives are clean and pure each day by keeping short sin accounts. We should not allow sin to reign, but allow the convicting power of God to change our lives and be more like Him each day. Have we “done all to stand”? If we are cultivating our relationship with the Lord, we will be able and ready to stand and help others to know Christ.

“Having your loins gird about with truth.” We have the truth of the Word of God that is without error. We should make special efforts to know our Bible so that we will have the Word of God to speak for us. What about the “breastplate of righteousness”? Are we protecting our hearts? In Proverbs 4:23 we find, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Ephesians 6:15 mentions our feet. Are our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”? When I think about feet, I think about getting up and walking. We need to be prepared to go and share the gospel. I think about my daughter, Susanna, when I read this because she is a soul-conscious individual. She often passes out gospel tracts when we are out together. We need to have the right tools with gospel tracts and our Bible. A soul-winner’s New Testament will fit in your purse with room to spare!

Our “shield of faith” is mentioned in Ephesians 6:16. It is so important in our lives to have a strong faith in God in order to do things we feel we cannot accomplish. The Wicked One will do all he can to discourage and cause us to waver in our faith in God. We need to go out and believe that God will give us opportunities to speak for Him and know what to say.The “helmet of salvation” is the assurance of our salvation. We can know for sure that we are going to Heaven because the Word of God makes it clear in I John. Verse after verse in I John indicates we can know we are saved. A great Bible study would be to go through I John and mark all the verses where you have the evidence of salvation.

In Ephesians 6:17 we find “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Again, we find the most important tool, the Word of God. Along with this, we need to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” We should allow the Holy Spirit to lead in our lives as we talk to people about our Savior. In the closing verses of this passage, Paul asks for prayer, “…that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador…” We seem to always have something to say until we get ready to present the gospel to someone. Our mouth gets dry, and it seems like we cannot find the words to say. The truth is we cannot do this in ourselves, but we can through the power of the Holy Spirit going before us. Let us pray and trust Him to put the words in our mouth to spread His gospel. As wives and mothers, let us not allow opportunities pass us by that can make a difference for a neighbor, someone we meet in a grocery store or a department store, or even when we go to the park and talk to other mothers with children. Let us all do our part for eternity!

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