For example, a church would be very innovative to have a website and distribute sermons online in 1999. In 2013 using technology to create a website and make sermons available online isn’t innovative at all.
Real innovation is much more than technology; It can take many forms like creating a new package for an old product that attracts attention or is easier to use. Or discovering a cheaper, more efficient procedure for planting churches. Or developing methods to reach underserved cultures, demographics, and geographic locations that are being ignored by the Church.
One can learn something about innovation by observing top 40 music. Granted, not all popular music is innovative, but many songs that make it to the top are great examples of innovation in music. Sometimes these songs are just plain weird. Other times they are offensive in a new way. Many times they push the boundaries of what has been acceptable and in doing so, provide something new for the audience to consume and debate. In such cases, the producers have created something unique. Something that’s not quite like anything you’ve ever heard.
We chalk it up to trying too hard, or missing the mark, or not understanding culture, or just plain failing. But eventually, despite offending so many, these songs catch on. People listen to them a few times and they start to like them. Or, something even more offensive comes out and the original song suddenly doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Before you know it, a dozen more songs have popped up that sound just like them. But by that time, the sound is no longer innovative and producers have to come up with something entirely new to catch people’s ears and captivate their attention again.
As music teaches us, you don’t have to create something entirely new to be innovative. You just have to do something in a unique context. One of the most popular country songs of the last few years uses rap in the verses. Rap in-and-of-itself is anything but innovative. Been around for decades. But not in country music. And not to the 19-year-old who’s context for what’s innovative is limited to his limited personal experience with the world. Many people hated this particular country song when it first came out. And yet, it’s one of the top selling songs of the decade. This is because the artists took two familiar things, country and rap, and combined them to form something new. Many innovations are created in a similar way.
Combine overflow rooms with church planting and you’ve got mutli-site churches. Combine rock music with worship music and you’ve got the modern mega church sound. Combine the bible with the iPhone and you’ve got Uversion and a hundred million downloads.
Professional songwriters will tell you that if you want to be great at writing, you must stop listening to top-40 radio. This is because listening to pop music will make your work sound like the music that’s being released today. But today’s pop music was actually written 4 years ago, recorded 2 years ago, released 6 months ago and is just now becoming popular. If you write music that sounds like the music coming out today, you’re already 4 years behind. The most innovative writers are inventing today what’s going to be popular in music half a decade from now.
So stop copying yesterday and start inventing tomorrow. That’s innovation.
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Matt Carter is the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Austin Stone Community Church in Athens, Texas. Matt grew up in Athens, Texas faithfully attending his local congregation and prayed to receive Christ at 8 years of age. However, Christ was not the focus of his life on a daily basis. Matt is confident that he was saved at this point because he could no longer enjoy sin – even when he tried – but he had not yet touched the holiness of God.
He attended Texas A&M with plans to go to medical school after graduation. During Christmas Break that year, he went on a ski trip with a church group. When they returned to College Station, a new friend invited him to a Bible study that met on campus. Matt decided to check it out. He experienced a deeper level of worship than he had ever encountered when he did. The students around him sang a song he had never heard before, “Lord, you are more precious than silver/ Lord, you are more costly than gold.” As he joined their song, he recognized that the words were truth. He realized that his life and priorities would have to change drastically because of that truth.
He began attending Central Baptist Church and, for the first time, truly made the Lord the focus of his life. Things began to fall into place and have a sense of purpose for him. He had encountered the presence and holiness of God; his life was changed.
Connect with Matt Carter on Twitter @_Matt_Carter.
#1 bestselling author, Justin Blaney, was born in Los Angeles and began his writing career in Mrs. King’s English class at the age of 6, but after a tragic accident involving a manual pencil sharpener he suddenly declared that writing was “not his thing.”Instead, he moved one state north to make his fortune in the organic meats industry.
After being named the Sausage Baron of Springfield, Justin grew tired of farming fame and moved yet another state north where he can venture into the meat department at Whole Foods without being pestered for the secret to one of his famous recipes.
Since then, Justin founded several companies, earned an MBA, began producing films, went parasailing, rode an elevator to the top of the Space Needle and decided to give writing one last shot, the result of which is a book about a shut-in named Evan Burl who never takes a bath. Evan Burl and the Falling, the first novel in a series that has very little to do with hygiene, reached #1 bestselling status in the suspense, fantasy and teen genres.
Justin lives with his wife and three daughters in Issaquah, a suburb of Bellevue which is a suburb of Seattle. You can find out more about Justin’s exciting adventures by executing a search on the world wide internets or by visiting his “online web page” at justinblaney.com
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