church innovation: a discussion

A last offering for the weekend - There is an interesting discussion about church innovation here. I'm just going to plagiarize myself and post a snippet of some of my comments here to start some conversation. Check it out!
Similarly, it is a bit concerning that these innovative churches report of their services as "filled with a sense of God's presence," "welcoming to newcomers" and "joyful." There is a strong connection here between God's presence, joy, and numerical growth. Certainly it is appealing to be a part of something growing and exciting. It adds a sense of vitality. But is it faith? What if people are enjoying a phenomenon that is largely a result of social engineering and has little to do with the Spirit of God? Is an "All-church, community wide day of service" really innovative? I am saddened that we cut out the other 364 days away and then celebrate it as remarkable.

Which brings me to the second problem: The nature of the assumptions and definitions in the study are not explicit, and I don’t think I agree with them. How do we judge the performance of a church? I am all for studies that show us truths about ourselves, but it must be remembered that a study only displays something human- only give us numbers and patterns that represent human behavior. They cannot point in a direct way to something outside of any scientific measuring; faith, the Spirit of God at work. The tools of science can only tell us about natural things, not supernatural things.

Perhaps the Sermon on the Mount is a more useful performance criterion? Are people reconciling more? Are they growing in their giving to the poor? At some point powerful worship services that reinforce the identity of the church or a generic evangelical identity will run at cross purposes with the gospel. (A subtle Constantinianism at best). But those same services will look very faithful. Perhaps we should turn to the homeless in a city or the atheists or Planned Parenthood to let us know how we are doing as churches?
So that's about 1/2 my ramble. I'd love to hear what you think about the initial post and the comments, too!


  1. Hi Erin,

    The metrics we use determine our focus and I don't think there is a "right" way to measure the performance of a church. If we feel led to explore an area in our lives, then a metric is perfectly fine to evaluate our progress.

    I do worry that people may be tempted to quanitify "how much God is blessing" any particular church, as if God would love one more or less or loves us more at one time than another. That might get dangerous.

    Rick said this really cool thing yesterday that he sometimes imagines himself talking to God, asking him if he was supposed to take a particular path that he chose or if he should have gone the other path. God then told him "well, you could have."


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