Research Findings Drive Innovation Lab Forward

Since the Innovation Lab launched in 2018, we’ve seen God transform individual faith journeys, ministries, and entire churches. We’ve hosted numerous training events with leaders around the country; created resources and curriculum on theological innovation; and walked alongside three cohorts of churches as they developed innovative ministries in their contexts.
Now we’re capitalizing on what we learned to diversify the ministers and ministries we engage in the future. This entails greater representation among races, denominations, geographic locations, ministry sizes, and ministry settings. We’re also expanding our scope to work with areas of ministry in addition to youth ministry. But to move beyond our assumptions about what’s going on in communities around the country, we needed more information about ministry leaders’ and their communities’ unique joys and challenges.
The Lab conducted research earlier this year to hear directly from leaders. Today we’re sharing that research with you! We anticipate you’ll find points of resonance with the experiences of the 76 ministry leaders we interviewed.
What we learned captures the realities of ministry in 2021, both now during the pandemic and before:

  • Ministry leaders are fatigued;
  • They’re navigating conflict and competing demands from those in their churches and organizations;
  • Leaders are aware of the need for change and desirous of innovation in their ministries, but they face resistance to change within organizational cultures that hinder innovation;
  • They feel generally ill-equipped to meet the needs of today’s churches.

But there is also reason for hope! These leaders are extremely passionate about holistically meeting the needs of the people with whom they are in ministry through their churches and organizations. They are aware of the need for contextualized innovation and energized by the prospect of ushering in changes so that more people experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ. They are ready to innovate, but their ministry settings need contextually relevant tools and support to make it possible.
This research, and feedback from other Lab program participants, is guiding us forward as we follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting to support diverse leaders and a wider variety of faith communities. We invite you to read the full research report and reflect on whether these findings ring true in your own ministry setting. Perhaps this report can be a reminder that none of us answers the call to ministry alone—in the joys and challenges.
To read the full research report, click here.