Innovation in Action & a Closer Look at Two NextGen Ministries
It’s official: Fall is upon us. It’s my wife’s favorite season. It’s a season marked by change. The leaves change color, the weather gets colder, and we begin to wind down our year as the holiday season approaches. I love change. To me change represents new opportunities, the chance to learn and grow, and the prospect of new adventures with God. Yet so much has already changed in 2020, it would be nice if things could just go back to the way they were. Perhaps our capacity for more change seems marginal at best. What is God up to? We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Rom. 8:28), so what is he trying to work out in us? I believe that if we’ll let him, God wants to increase our ability to innovate.
One truth I’ve held fast to during the COVID season is this: God is not surprised by what’s going on. He wasn’t caught off guard or asleep at the wheel. He knew what would happen and his solution for society is the same as it has been for over 2000 years. It’s us. It’s the Church. It’s the body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus that have been commissioned to make disciples of all nations. So, we find these two seemingly opposite truths at work: everything’s changing and God doesn’t change. Society is reeling and Jesus remains on the throne. Enter innovation. As the Church, we have the privilege to love the world around us, to innovate, change, grow, and remain effective as we lead others to the love of God. Our method isn’t sacred but our mission is.
If your church is anything like mine, you’ve been innovating like crazy. Fine-tuning livestream services, preaching to a camera, facilitating Zoom groups, hosting socially-distant gatherings, reaching out to youth, kids, and their parents… the list goes on. I want to encourage you to keep going. Keep pressing on. Keep innovating. Keep loving your people. Remember that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). Let’s throw off everything that hinders us and run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb. 12:1). I want to take a moment to highlight two CPD NextGen leaders who are doing just that.
Youth leader David Varela at LifePoint Church in Bakersfield just completed construction of an amazing outdoor venue for youth in his church’s parking lot. Check out the picture below! This venue will provide a safe and socially-distant space for youth to continue to experience the transforming love of Jesus. I’m inspired by David because he’s been leading youth ministry for 27 years (that’s like 57 in youth ministry years!) yet he’s continuing to innovate and lead young people to Jesus. Well done David!
At Hope Church in Santa Cruz, youth pastor Justin Hamilton has been continuing to innovate his ministry as he responds to the wild fires that have devastated his community. While helping to provide food, clothing, and shelter for those who have experienced loss in the fires, Justin noticed that something very important was being overlooked. Many youth in Santa Cruz were losing their most prized possession, their skateboards. That’s why Justin created Boards and Bibles, a ministry that puts a brand-new Bible and skateboard in the hands of youth that lost them in the fires. Skating is a vital component of the culture in Santa Cruz. In fact, Hope Church has skate ramps permanently installed in their sanctuary so that kids can have a safe place to skate, even when it rains. Justin puts it this way, “Skating is what brings joy, community, and physical activity to kids all over Santa Cruz. And my heart is for the kids to know that they are not forgotten.” If you’d like to partner with Justin and Boards and Bibles, you can email him at email@example.com. Additionally, check out https://discoverhope.church as they continue to provide relief to fire victims in their area.
Remember CPD family, God is with us. He goes before us. Our commission to be the Church to a broken and hurting world is just as relevant as it has ever been. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to shape our vision, give us bold dreams, and empower us as only he can to lead our communities to Jesus. Let’s embrace change and courageously innovate. That’s my prayer for us in this season.
In your corner,