There are No Guarantees in Ministry

Change is inevitable. What is clear from history, the development of the earth, and our own lives is that things don’t remain the same. The best we can hope to enjoy is the splendor of the moment as long as it is afforded to us, and then look ahead to the next wonderful thing the Lord allows us to enjoy.

Unfortunately, for too many churches, the past has been allowed to carry forward into a present it was never meant for, causing too many communities of faith to become communities of fear. Fear of an uncertain future full of discomfort, and inconvenience. What happens is that memory of the past becomes a substitute for thinking that acts as a mindless guide for future action (Pfeffer and Sutton, 2000). As ministry leaders we must break ourselves from our love for the past and begin to fall in love with the innovation possibilities of the future.

What many ministry leaders want is a guarantee new things will work. In other words, they want to remove all risk from innovation activities, but this is not possible. By definition, innovation is trying something new and discovering its value (Oster, 2011). There is risk involved because there is discovery. As ministry leaders, our faith communities should truly be communities who live by faith when faced with risk opportunities. We must exert strong leadership as we develop strategy and communicate vision, and we need to reward those willing to take risks with us (Davila et al., 2012). Part of this is creating proper metrics and rewards for innovative activities and seeking out ways to integrate risk and innovation into the culture of the church (Davila et al., 2012).

These activities cause the past to remain in the past, and the future to be a welcome reality.


Davila, T., Epstein, M. J., & Shelton, R. D. (2013). Making innovation work: how to manage it, measure it, and profit from it (Updated ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press.

Oster, G. W. (2011). The light prize: perspectives on Christian innovation. Virginia Beach, Va.: Positive Signs Media.

Pfeffer, J., & Sutton, R. I. (2000). The knowing-doing gap: how smart companies turn knowledge into action. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

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