America's Most Innovative Churches of 2008 – Really?

0807_feature_innovative.gifWhy are America's Most Innovative Churches also some of the largest in America?  Northpointe, NewSpring, Saddleback et al are nominees for the award in 2008.    Is this like when Taco Bell wins best Mexican food because it's the most voted place in town?  Aren't there small churches who are doing innovative things too?  It seems like smaller churches should have more freedom to be innovative.  House church movements?  Harbor's multi-site, multi-congregational non-video venue model?  Soma's multi-congregational, involved discipleship (street walking) and dialogue based services?  How about people who are doing amazing mercy ministries, changing a city, Tentmakers, re-thinking church structures based on changing paradigms? 

Hmmm…according to the survey these aren't considered as much as podcasts, blogging, websites, social networking, film production and video venues …. 

  • tony morgan

    August 11, 2007, 6:00 pm

    drew, i agree. smaller churches do have more freedom to be innovative. it would help me out if you’d nominate one or more.


  • Kevin McCord

    August 13, 2007, 4:11 pm

    I was prepared to say that the voting would clearly favor mega churches and so you shouldn’t be surprised to see the most notable ones there, but then I saw the form itself. It defines innovative a bit too much. It also implies innovation is primarily in the area of the formal worship services. I suppose the “top” or “most” lists are always going to be around. The web even encourages this most derrivative, and therefor least meaningful, aspect of research.

    My own church innovates better than any I know in areas this study isn’t even beginning to explore, but we still don’t feel like we should be a model for others because we have too much to learn and too much to improve. I don’t want my church on the list as we don’t need to confuse innovation with significance.

  • Mick Porter

    August 14, 2007, 2:03 am


    Good points – but there’s always going to be a tendency to elevate form over substance, and technology etc. will grab more attention than substantial innovation.

    I’m really keen to learn from lots of the innovations you mention, including Harbor’s funky multi-site setup and the tentmaking group. We’ve already got an amazing mercy ministry happening after being influenced by Keller, Chester, and A29.

    I agree with Kevin that innovative doesn’t have to mean significant, but there are certainly churches that are innovative in areas of great substance, and should be highlighted as important examples.

  • Kevin McCord

    August 14, 2007, 8:39 am

    Great point Drew, clearly innovation does mean significance at times. I just meant that the verdict is out on whether the way my church is innovating is going to equal significance. I think we annoint things a bit quickly in our culture.

  • Michael

    August 16, 2007, 2:06 pm

    Hooray for those churches. No, I don’t see my church on there, but so what. I’m not in the ministry so I don’t have a clue what the ratio of small and large churches are doing innovative things. What I can tell is that we still need a huge impact in america to represent that most churches are innovative.

  • Michael

    August 16, 2007, 2:10 pm

    Innovative maybe wasn’t the right word to use. “creatively showing the church cares” would be what I was meaning by innovative.

  • Virgil

    January 3, 2010, 3:43 am

    Good looking out mentioning Soma. Jeff V is re-shaping church by making church what church was intended to be in the 1st century. Imagine that! I don’t go there, but have heard him teach and preach and hope that I can use some of his ideas when I plant my church.

    As for the list itself, I agree … REALLY? Fellowship and Saddleback? C’mon, man. That’s like rooting for the Yankees. TONS of churches are doing more with less. Feels like a cop out.