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The Harvard Business Review defines innovation as “the difficult discipline of newness.” What new thing is forming in your congregation? The congregation I attended last Sunday is starting a Friday night dinner, which will end with communion. In explaining the gathering, the pastor said “We don’t have to wait for Sunday to break bread together.”

My colleague Kara Faris and I have learned about the difficult discipline of newness from 12 innovative congregations. Stories from leaders of these congregations are in the book Divergent Church.

We learned of six practices evident in various configurations among these congregations. By practices, we mean universal human activities that take on unique and often new shape in these innovative congregations.

The congregations told remarkable stories that featured creative expressions of these six practices:

  • Shaping Community
  • Conversation
  • Artistic Expression
  • Breaking Bread
  • Community Engagement
  • Hospitality

If you were given full license to innovate regarding a practice, which practice would you choose and what would the innovation look like?

If you are interested in reading the book Divergent Church email me at tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org and I will send you a copy.

To learn more about congregations and innovation, take a look at the blog From Hallowed Space to Holograms and the organization Ministry Incubators.

By the way, the congregation starting the Friday night gathering is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Innovation is not dependent on a congregation being shiny and new.


Tim Shapiro by Tim Shapiro

Tim is president of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations – of which the CRG is a program. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Tim’s interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation Learns.

tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org