I was working with a church not too long ago, helping them with an environmental projection installation for their main worship center. We partnered with a local audio/visual supplier helping them connect the dots of all the technology during the installation process. I spent three consecutive weekends with this community leading up to Easter. I fell in love with this community.
I fell in love with the idea that this community was so interested in creating visual atmospheres to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that was as sticky as possible. They seemed to understand the role media and art plays in worship. I left after that Easter Sunday excited that they were about to embark on an amazing journey.
Three years later, I was asked to return and help them with a special service. I was really excited to see how much their volunteers had learned and the visual style they had developed over the years. I booked my flight and was on my way.
Over the course of the weekend I found myself in conversation with several key leaders asking a very similar question. It went something like this:
“Luke, we’re so glad you’ve helped us with our environmental projection installation. We love that it’s allowed us to embrace technology well. But we know you’re well connected… help us stay ahead of the game. What’s the next big thing?”
At the time, I didn’t realize how damaging this question was to this community. I played along, giving a few ideas and engaging in the ideation process. However, on my flight back it struck me how painful this question was. This specific community isn’t alone. I find myself asking that same question, along with countless others. Why is it that we often become fixated on being so innovative?
I think innovation is killing the local Church. Maybe not innovation itself, but the drive to always be innovative. It’s as if the Church has allowed itself to be addicted to a powerful and potent drug. I see it at nearly every conference I attend, it’s all over social media, and it seems to be the theme of the most popular blogs: a desire to be more innovative.
We’ve created a culture in the Western Church that seems to focus on moving quickly from one series to the next, constantly redesigning our stages, and incessantly meeting to brainstorm. We seem to be moving so quickly that we don’t ever allow ourselves to be fully present in the now. It’s as if our goal in the Church is to be so cutting edge that we lose the ability to be relevant. It’s a race to originality instead of being custom fit to our own communities needs.
The now has influence. It has impact.
Originality is fresh, but being fresh doesn’t have to include something original. If we could spend less time fixated on innovation, and a little bit more time being fully present in the here and now, I’m convinced that our impact will be multiplied.
Having goals of growth and excellence is not a bad thing. However, ceaseless innovation will prevent us from just sitting and being with the God of all creation. It’s okay to iterate, to adapt, and modify. And it’s okay to reinvent the wheel from time to time. The question comes down to whether or not you’ve positioned yourself to be more addicted to the next big thing or if you’ve fallen in love with being fully alive in the here and now. God’s called you to now.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself: How can I connect more with the now?