Innovation Collectives – A Tool For Leaders

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28 Jan, 2021

Innovation Collectives – A Tool For Leaders

By Adam Oellermann, Minister at Milestone Christian Fellowship in Girvan

Innovation collectives are a tool for leaders to pursue change or development in the life of the church, with the support, challenge and prayer of a small group of other church leaders. The changes being explored by the leaders can be similar or quite different – the common factor is the building of God’s kingdom, and a commitment to share, develop and implement the change over three months, as the group maintains a window on progress.

Our group consisted of four members plus Jim Purves, our host. We met fortnightly over a three-month period; each session was online and lasted slightly over an hour. Jim maintained the discipline of the innovation collective, which has a profound simple efficiency. At each meeting, each member takes a ‘turn’ to consider their change. A ‘turn’ consists of a fixed set of activities: the member whose ‘turn’ it is starts by briefly presenting a change they are working on in their own context – setting out challenges and obstacles as well as any successes and progress. Each group member then asks a question, which is answered in turn. After this, each group member in turn offers a brief observation – but not advice. Finally, the team member responds, receives prayer from another member, and then it is the next team member’s turn.

This disciplined process worked well in our group. It is well-suited to the online medium, and provides space for remarkable interaction – practical, reflective, pastoral. As I focussed on a new after-school group we were setting up at Milestone, my fellow team members offered me practical insights, suggestions, warnings and comments from their own experience which proved valuable in getting started. More than this, my ideas were challenged and stretched by the broader perspective of the group, creating an expanded insight which was remarkably profound. And, of course, the inherent accountability of the group helped develop the forward momentum which got our change successfully implemented in spite of the challenges of lockdown.

Innovation collectives are very accessible: they are inexpensive in terms of time, especially with the online medium. The benefits in terms of insight, inspiration and practical growth are substantial, though: pick a project and give innovation collectives a go!


Innovations: Pastoral ministry in the marketplace

By Rob Jones, Minister at Kelso Baptist Church

It has been a back-to-basics type ministry, exploring the few places I am allowed to inhabit due to Covid-19 restrictions: the shops, the businesses from which I might buy a coffee, or get a puncture repaired. Kelso itself has a wonderful market square with over 50 independent trading shops and within the Borders at large there exists a spirit of entrepreneurial independence.

Here, I have also recognised God’s Spirit at work, as I have simply listened and spent time with people, divine moments in places which have surprised me. From the cafe run by a Christian couple, where I have my weekly theological chat with the owners (and sometimes the punters), to the Bicycle shop where I am asked to describe my call to the ministry (in the midst of simply talking about cycle repair). In the market-spaces of this town God is showing me the hearts of those who were previously strangers to me.

In one shop whilst discussing buying and selling property, I find someone who grew up as a Baptist, who might return to God some day, then in a flower shop I find a couple looking for a church to attend. One story is particularly inspiring; every week I go and pick up some artisan sourdough bread from the bread lady, and gradually, bit by bit, I have discovered her dearly held Orthodox faith and selfless concern for the poor.

I believe this is only the beginning of a Christian mission to the wider business community at large in Kelso and surrounding areas. God’s Spirit is at work, and I can only pray that I am sensitive to His leading both now and in the future, when normal work is made possible after Covid-19 restrictions fade.

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