Innovate 08 Conference

This past week I had the great opportunity to attend the Innovate08 Conference, hosted by Granger Community Church.  The 2-day event is packed with great speakers and church leaders across the country.

Mark Beeson opened the first day with the theme of this year, “Stop Talking…”   Some key points from Mark:

  • Too often the church can talk too much and act too little.
  • Too many of us have disengaged from a world in need.
  • When we find people we know or love and realize they are in trouble or heading into disaster, we need to do more than just pray – we need to do something! They matter to God.
  • A balanced life is not effective, lean in and make a difference!
  • We need to get the truth boiled down to digestible chunks that the culture can understand and do it with story, illustration, song, media, and video.
  • Make it brief and take advantage of the technology that is available.

Shawn Wood did a fantastic job of explaining Brand Schizophrenia to us. Using a very unique slide presentation Shawn reminded us how we can easily fall into the trap of worshiping our stuff (including our brand) instead of Jesus.

  • If we worry too much about managing our brand we can loose authenticity.
  • The pursuit of excellence can leave you chasing (and focusing on) better stuff – in which case you might as well just be in the market place.
  • Your brand should be a product of who you are in Christ and who you are as a church.
  • You can be excellent at what you do and yet totally ineffective.
  • Our goal should be to be effective in reaching people for Jesus, not just being excellent at doing church.
  • Your brand is not about your stuff, it is the after taste left by an experience with your church (web site, service, media, small groups, etc)
  • The Challenge – don’t be someone else or chase after excellence for the sake of excellence. Learn who you are in Jesus & as a church & find how to create experiences that leave an after taste with them that helps to lead them to Christ & to connect with Him more.

Bobby Gruenewald of lead a breakout session on leveraging technology. Some note worthy points:

  • Technology is neutral (not good or bad) and can be used for good or for evil.
  • Key point of effective tech is engagement with the culture – and it is often free.
  • No one way of communication – need to keep alternative methods for people to get information
  • Hard to measure the success of technology, but bottom line is changed lives.
  • Developing for a mobile environment makes you think hard about what & how to communicate.
  • 80 times more use of via mobile devices than via the web.
  • is coming. You can sign-up now to receive email when it is ready. This looks to be a very useful online tool to help churches track their weekly addendance. Watch the intro video on the site!


Tim Stevens had a session from his new book, Pop Goes the Church. His talking points:

  • Reality #1 – Most churches are not impacting their communities
    While we have done fine with reached the already-churched, we don’t do so well reaching the un-churched, and the de-churched.
  • Reality #2 – Spiritual interest is going up in American culture. 
  • John 1:14 – “God became flesh & blood & moved into the neighborhood” (The Message)
  • We need to do better at putting biblical topics in a cultural wrapping – much like the apostle Paul in Acts 17.
  • Examples of how to user pop culture:
    1. To package a topic
    2. To get people thinking or laughing (help gain trust)
    3. To provide a new interpretation for a popular culture element. (to see this in action, check out how Granger provided new meaning to some Beetles music for their Christmas 2007 series – Watch here) 
  • Why should we do this?  So that….  those far from Him will be shown the hope and promise they have in Jesus!

On Day 2, Rob Wagner started us off on a very motivating session called “Missional Moves”. Rob is an extremely passionate guy and it shows!  Rob explained:

  • We are God’s plan to address the needs of the world & to help them believe that God is good and that He does not have another plan, so we need to get into action!
  • Kingdom of God was a main teaching / talking point of Jesus.  Kingdom = the place on earth where God’s will is done like it is in heaven (back to point above on how that happens)
  • From saved souls to saved wholes – the gospel needs to be more than just a verbal proclamation. It also needs a demonstration proclamation, where we address the needs people have (poverty, education, addiction, spiritual, etc)
  • From flashlight to laser focus – The Great Commission is not the same as the Great Commotion!  Having laser like focus in our outreach will dramatically increase impact and mobilization of the church body.
  • From professional to full participation – Instead of hiring a professional to help, we need to get the people out of their seats. The church must counter people’s fear and busyness to do so.  Granger’s Second Saturday is a great example of how to do that.

The Directional Leadership Team from was on hand to discuss how their perspective on church leadership and organization. A few take-aways for me:

  • An organization is the reflection of its leadership. This greatly increases the need for every leader to know who they are (self-awareness) and understand their strengths and weaknesses. You really need to understand who God has called you to be and then stick to it!
  • Must have a willingness to “get naked”.  Not literally, but relationally.  As a leader, to gain trust you must be willing to be vulnerable.
  • The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be is the pain you are unwilling to endure.  Wow – that was a powerful statement.  What decision do you need to make, painful as it may be?

Steven Furtick was absolutely on fire! Like he said, he is not a conference speaker, he is a preacher and boy did he preach it!  He encouraged and challenged us like no one else. He reminded us that no matter the pain you might be going through in ministry or the difficulty we are having or the seemingly endlessness to achiving our dream, we cannot give up hope. Do not faint in the middle of the process, because the process is the point! The process of getting from where you are (or where) when you first decided to step on the ministry path to where God wants you to be, will be filled with pain, but that is the point. It isn’t for nothing, God is using it to prepare you for what he has in store!

Mark Beeson closed the conference with a reminder that the challenge to us is always for us to be faithful and obedient in the present.  That often means that we have to do something and not just talk about it!  We need to bring about change in our communities, but for that to happen we need clear and accurate communication as a church.