Churches should be innovative in how they reach their communities. But rather than run off to another conference or buy another book, I believe it has already placed the innovators in your church! These innovative people are involved in the marketplace every day of their lives. But instead of having their best creativity and innovative thinking applied to the marketplace, how about unleashing them in your church to help fulfill the Great Commission and Great Commandments? Rick Warren says that a Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will build a Great Church. God has a great church in your heart, ready to be birthed right now! Marketplace ministers can help your church impact your community in innovative ways that will take your church beyond business as usual.

Recently I wrote a book, PastorPreneur(www.pastorpreneur.com), to describe my sense of the call of God upon the life of church and business leaders to risk everything to reach their local communities for Christ. Business as usual in the church won’t cut it anymore. I believe that pastors and other church leaders need to link arms with believers who have marketplace expertise for a combined effort at reaching people for Christ. Our local church, Carson Valley Christian Center (CVC,www.cvcwired.com),  was started seven and one-half years ago in an area where only 100,000 people live within 30 miles and where only five percent of the population attends church and no Protestant churchreachesover400 people. But today, we are seeing almost 2,000 people attend CVC each weekend; 40% of those were previously unchurched! We have discovered five strategies where Innovative Community Impact can happen…

STRATEGY #1: GRAB THE COMMUNITY’S ATTENTION

There was a time when any church with a steeple and stained glass could assume they could “open the door and see all the people.” Today, in a post-Christian culture, we are seeing a net loss of more than 58 churches per day in America(that means that 58 more churches per day are closing that starting), according to the American Society for Church Growth). For many, the church is irrelevant to their lives. In our area, we describe our church as a church for people who “have given up on church, but have not given up on God.” Grabbing the community’s attention is all about being outward-focused on the most powerful Good News the world has ever or will ever know. When we present that message to the world, and we must be bold and creative to break through the barriers of irrelevance that have built up for the church. Unleash the creativity of marketplace ministers within your church so that you can grab the community’s attention with innovative strategies…

Laura & Curt Cotter came to CVC through their daughter’s involvement in a children’s choir. Laura rededicated her life to Christ, and Curt received Christ here at CVC. Today, they have produced world-class direct marketing pieces in our local community, and we’ve done some really funny video and cable television pieces (including some Indiana Jones, Fab Five, and other take-offs from popular television and movie shows). Every time we do something creative, we take flak from other churches and reach unchurched people in our community who are willing to give church a try.

STRATEGY #2: BUILD STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

Our church uses the Fourth of July as a key vehicle to grab our community’s attention and build strategic partnerships. Early on, a man in our church who owns a grocery store partnered with us to provide food for the entire event. We have partnered with our local newspaper, hospitals, businesses, and others to enlarge our ministry outreach. We are currently preparing to launch what I believe will be a major initiative in marketplace ministries; the key leaders will be in a medical imaging company in our community. By releasing the gifts and passions of marketplace ministers in strategic partnerships, we have seen God touch many lives!

STRATEGY #3: CONDUCT FAITH-BUILDING EVENTS

George Barna suggests that as many as 40% of the people who attend your church for the first time will come as the result of an invitation to a special event. Faith-building events are the fruit of strategic partnerships. These events are birthed in the heart of your people; when we do entrepreneurial activity in the church, we are not only reaching “out,” but we are building “in.” People with leadership gifts are empowered in your midst, and those with faith gifts are released to see what God can do with willing hearts. Many who might never believe that they (or their church!) could see God at work in powerful ways will see God’s working when churches strategically plan and execute outreach events that reach people for Christ and build the faith of their own members.

Every year that we do our July 4th event, we see a few thousand people come to our property, approximately 50% of whom are not from our church (we see roughly the same percentages at our Harvest Festival in the fall). What is equally inspiring to see is the labor of 100-150 of our CVC people involved in direct ministry to others. The love of Christ is shared, and the faith of God’s people is built up!

STRATEGY #4: EVERY PERSON IS A 10

Wayne Cordeiro of Hope Chapel helped me with this seminal thought: Everyone is a 10 somewhere! We believe that equipping and releasing people for ministry is the unfinished task of the Protestant Reformation! Scripture teaches us that each person has an assignment in the body of Christ. When we discover and live out that assignment, it is like the “sweet spot of the racket” for a tennis player. Recently I had the chance to prognosticate a little….and I said that the church of the future would involve 80% of its people in ministries OUTSIDE the local church. In fact, one of the goals we are launching for our church next year is for 1,000 people to contribute 10 hours per month in direct community service…OUTSIDE the walls of our church! A church with a vision for innovative community impact will engage EVERY one of its members in lifechanging outreach ministry. Can you imagine what a full-employment policy would look like in your church?

STRATEGY #5: MULTIPLY YOUR IMPACT

John Maxwell talks about the fact that all of us stand on the shoulders of those who have gone on before. God’s blueprint for personal and organizational growth is that we multiply our character and skills in the lives of others. II Timothy 2:2 teaches us to pass on what we have learned. Transformational Leaders can link together with other key leaders to create a network of training and multiplication in the local church. If the previous four strategies are at work in your ministry, you can be assured that you will have many opportunities to multiply your impact. And, at a church wide level, you can be involved in the powerful Great Commission tool of starting another church, partnering with others to revitalize a ministry, or launch a new ministry locally or globally. God’s game plan is for individuals and churches to multiply their impact.

Business as usual won’t cut it anymore. I’m believing for a revolution in the American church landscape where vocational church leaders and marketplace ministers will join forces to creatively connect with our local communities for the cause of Christ. God has a great ministry for your church and I think He has placed the innovative people in your church right now…

SIDEBAR ARTICLE…

“Growth or Control…Take Your Pick…but you can’t have both!”

Churches face a tough dilemma…either the pastor (or the board or a select group of people) can decide to control all the ministry of the church OR they can equip and train people for ministry and RELEASE it…and therefore lift the lid on capacity to reach others for Christ. It is my experience that if pastors and leaders will cast a clear vision, put their focus on equipping and training, and release ministry into the hands of gifted and called men and women, that God will bless! Wherever I have taught this principle, either nationally and internationally, people have all said, “Yes! I’ve experienced that reality in my church or ministry…” Are you choosing growth or control?

Dr. John Jackson is the founding and Senior Pastor of Carson Valley Christian Center, and the President of Vision Quest Ministries. He is the author of PastorPreneur and High Impact Church Planting, along with other resources that can be found at www.vqresources.com. Previous articles have appeared in Leadership Journal, Rev. Magazine as well as several other publications. Dr. Jackson may be reached atjohn@pastorpreneur.com

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