Innovation_4_2 I did an interview with Outreach Magazine for their January/February issue on America’s Most Innovative Churches. I got an advance copy of the magazine and there is some great stuff in this issue.  I also got to be on the panel that helped nominate churches for America’s Most Innovative Churches list.  That was fun, and much more challenging than I thought.  I really tried to find innovations that were occurring in churches that no one had ever heard of and nominate them.  But if there is cool stuff happening out there, chances are someone has heard about it already. Anyway, that is another post for another day.  Some of the interview they used in their cover story and some of it they edited out.  So, over the next couple days I will post some of the Q & A from that interview.

OUTREACH: If you think of innovation as something
new–something that hasn’t been done before–what would you say are three
of the most innovative initiatives/strategies your church is doing
currently in the context of outreach or you’re doing through your church?

DF:  There are a number of innovations in the works at
Community, but three that seem to be gaining traction are the following:

  • Multi-Site to Poly-Site: Our vision at Community is no longer just to be multi-site, but is to be poly-site and to reach out to more people and more different kinds of people. A Poly-site church reproduces not just sites, but many kinds of sites to reach many kinds of people.
  • Network to Networks Community’s NewThing Network is now NewThing Networks.  NewThing is not only reproducing new churches but has made a shift to reproducing networks. It is the reproducing of networks that will allow us to be a catalyst for a movement of new churches.
  • Partnership with under-resourced public schools. Community’s partnership with under-resourced public schools is helping transform a neighborhood, our church and provide outreach opportunities beyond our imagination!

OUTREACH: What prompted you to try
these initiatives/strategies?  What was your motivation?

DF:  I don’t mean to sound hyper-spiritual, but we really believe that these things are promptings by God’s Spirit…God-things!  And our motivation is always to “help people find their way back to God” and to accomplish the mission of Jesus.  Here is some more on each of these innovations:

  • Multi-Site to Poly-Site:  Most of the
    current thinking and application amongst multi-site churches is to
    reproduce new sites exactly like all the rest. At Community we
    currently have eight locations in Chicago  and our dream is to have two
    hundred sites. The dream forced us to ask ourselves, “how can we reach the growing senior population; how
    can we reach the growing ethnic populations; and how can we reach the
    emerging generation who may never come to a church facility?” Those
    questions and subsequent opportunities brought these initiatives. And our motivation is
    always: “helping people find their way back to God”.
  • Network to Networks Our motivation comes from NewThing’s dream: “to be a catalyst for a movement of reproducing churches.”  This dream requires that we move from a single network of reproducing churches to reproducing networks of reproducing churches!
  • Partnership
    with under-resourced public schools
    . After over a decade
    of strategically focusing our outreach on people like us, we knew it was time
    to expand our focus beyond people like us and into places that were culturally
    and economically different from our own community.  We knew we needed to
    help our congregation live out the 3,000 versus in the Bible that talk about
    poverty and injustice and our responsibility as Christ-followers to do
    something about that.  Our motivation was a commitment to live out the
    whole gospel and serve and reach people in a wholistic way—by meeting
    physical, relational, economic and spiritual needs.

(more to come…)

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