You might associate the word “innovation” with new products and designs, but did you know that innovation plays an important role in mission?
“The world changes, and we have to adapt,” said Moses Chung, director of Resonate Global Mission’s Mission Innovation Team, a group of ministry leaders from throughout the world who discover and cultivate best practices for spreading the gospel.
“Mission innovation has to do with discerning what God is doing and joining God there,” said Moses. “That’s where the true innovation happens with the church.”
Joining God at work requires responding to local contexts where pastors, church leaders, missionaries, church planters, campus ministers, network developers, and other ministry leaders throughout the world are working. Every day, ministry leaders are responding to how God is working in their communities. Sometimes, that means taking a creative approach to challenges or embracing a new ministry opportunity.
Resonate’s Mission Innovation Team provides support for ministry leaders by fostering collaboration and providing funds to support best practices for mission Here are a few ways that the Holy Spirit has worked through these innovative approaches:
A small group of ministry leaders grows into a network
Resonate’s Journeying into Friendships Network—a community of learning for people who are committed to living out the gospel by building friendship with people from a variety of cultures and faiths—started as a small group of ministry leaders meeting together. But navigating ministry with people from a culture and faith that is different from your own can be challenging and awkward, and it soon became clear that more people needed support.
Within a few short years, what started as an informal group of 20 ministry leaders has grown into a network of 130 leaders. And it’s still growing.
Greg Sinclair, who is part of Resonate’s Mission Innovation Team and leads Resonate’s diaspora ministry, facilitates the Journeying into Friendships Network. Today, the network hosts regular meetings throughout the year to cover a variety of topics. Last year, the group met in Montréal to learn about Resonate partner Mission Montréal’s work with diaspora populations. This year, they were going to meet in Chicago, but because of COVID-19, they met online instead.
“I feel sometimes isolated in my work, so it’s great to feel like I have broader colleagues who I’m connected with,” said Dena Nicolai, who attended the consultation in Montréal last year. “It’s good to have people to process with … we [learn] more about ourselves in our own contexts.”
Grants make new approaches to ministry possible
Through the Mission Innovation Team, Resonate provides ministries with financial support for creative, innovative approaches to ministry that resonate with people.
Todd Statham, a Resonate campus minister at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, noticed students on his campus had a passion for sharing the gospel—but sharing the gospel doesn’t come without challenges. Some of the students’ peers are open to the gospel message, but others shut them down.
Todd had an idea to use horses to help train students in evangelism. A grant from Resonate’s Innovation Fund helped make that possible. Students had thoughtful discussions about what they learned from the exercise.
Grants also help provide funds for churches to have meaningful connections with their communities. Destination Church in St. Thomas, Ontario, saw a great opportunity to connect with their community by providing space for a local initiative to provide culturally relevant and sensitive programming for Indigenous people in their community. Resonate provided funds so Destination Church could offer space and support.
Resonate doesn’t just provide innovation grants for campus ministries and church plants, however; grants are also available for established CRC congregations to engage mission in creative ways that resonate with their communities.
First Christian Reformed Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, hosted regular community dinners inside their church building—but they wondered if there were people in the neighborhood who were hesitant to venture inside a church building. So, they wanted to host an event outdoors.
An innovation grant from Resonate made it possible for the church to host a gathering with music and food outside in the church garden. Located right next door to a welcome center for newcomers to Canada, First CRC has a robust ministry with refugees—and the church believed music would overcome language barriers and give newcomers a taste of the local culture and an opportunity to connect with new neighbors.
Ministry leaders from throughout the world are invited into the conversation
Resonate’s Mission Innovation Team wanted to invite more ministry leaders into a conversation about responding to God’s work in the world, so they started the Glocal Mission Summit. Last year, pastors, church leaders, missionaries, and other ministry leaders serving throughout Canada, the United States, and the world gathered in Los Angeles, California.
“We want to be asking, ‘What is God up to, and what is God’s mission for the world in the places where God has placed us?’” said Moses about the summit.
Ministry leaders shared testimonies from their ministries and had the opportunity to praise God together, pray together, read Scripture together, and reflect on the new ways the Holy Spirit might be calling the church to serve God and God’s people.
Another Glocal Mission Summit was scheduled for Spring 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new date has not yet been determined, but ministry leaders are looking forward to gathering again and discussing new ways God might be calling them to minister within communities.
“Mission innovation has to do with the Holy Spirit,” said Moses. “The most creative being in the whole world is the Holy Spirit … whenever the church does its work, the Holy Spirit is always in the business of stretching the boundaries or crossing the boundaries.”