Where do good ideas go to die? (Hint: It’s usually not far from where they originated.)
I believe most churches launched with good ideas. The programs, the systems, the communication, the music — They were relevant in their context and time. Here’s a problem though: A lot of churches stop having good ideas because they are content with their last ideas. Ideas become relics, those things we needed when we got started but don’t need now that we’ve figured out how to do this.
Good ideas don’t last forever. Need examples? Cassette tape-subscription leadership clubs. Overhead projectors. Big tent meetings. (Side note: Funny how technology, an industry that exists to spark the next big idea, drives a lot of this. The church needs to pay attention to technology because it so greatly influences culture.)
The trouble is, ideas keep us moving forward. If we stop having them, we’re stagnating.
So, take some time to evaluate your big ideas:
1. Why was this a good idea in the first place?
The mark of a good idea is that it met a specific need in a specific context. Take the time to investigate the origination of the idea. Find out why that one discipleship class was scheduled at a different time than all the rest. Ask why the website was organized this way. Dig to discover the reasons why an idea developed the way it did.
2. Are those reasons still valid?
To spot ideas that have expired, compare the reasons behind their development to current needs.
3. How can we adjust or reinvent?
Chances are, going through this exercise, you’ll spot at least one or two formerly good ideas that really aren’t working anymore. Now is the time for some new, good ideas. Decide whether to eliminate, replace or adjust programs, plans and methods. Involve some key people who weren’t around at the time of the original idea to help you come up with new ideas. They will be able to look objectively at the current practice.
Apply these three questions to your worship service, discipleship program, connection system and other ministry components. Do they tell you anything valuable about the future of paper bulletins, physical offering plates or lobby sign-up sheets, for example? All of these were good ideas at one time. It is up to you to determine if they continue to meet the needs of your community within its ever-changing context.