I just finished reading innovatechurch, innovative leadership for the next generation church, by Jonathan Falwell. If you haven’t heard, God is doing some amazing things at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. This book is a collaborative effort from the leadership of Thomas Road and Liberty University. I have taken several seminary classes from Liberty, so I like to keep up with what is happening there. Since the death of Jerry Falwell, the church has experienced tremendous growth, building on the framework and structure and leadership that he provided. His son Jonathan is now pastor at Thomas Road.
The church is indeed doing some innovative things, but the book is more about not losing sight of the gospel message in the effort to be innovative. Thomas Road is a great example that you can still reach your community with a church that has traditional elements in the service. I think many pastors get caught up in the contemporary and modern style of worship and church, and forget that much of the country, especially in the south, has grown up around church. We must find ways to connect the truth of the message to the culture that we live in. As pastors, the most important thing for us is to discover God’s vision for our leadership and church. We need revelation, not imitation. Thomas Road has done a great job of keeping their church relevant to their culture without compromising their vision.
The book is separated into 8 different areas of innovation:
- Church Planting
There are many great leadership lessons throughout the book. I can highly recommend reading it. There was only one section that I struggled with. In the section on culture, everything was based on being politically involved through government and through the legal system. My idea of influencing culture comes not through the political process, but through the lives of people living out the Gospel. What Thomas Road is doing through their service groups in the community is a great example of being a positive influence on culture. I have said it before, but we should be known for our love, not for what we are against. The church for far too long has delegated it’s responsibility to change culture to politicians and lawyers. I think we should follow the example of Jesus and engage culture by actually taking the gospel message to them.
Again, overall this is an excellent book. It challenged me in how we are doing some things at Cornerstone. I especially liked the chapters on discipleship and church planting. This book was a great read, considering how the culture of Lynchburg and our city are so similar.