Innovation, Possible: How to Be More Innovative at Your Church

Innovation, Possible: How to Be More Innovative at Your Church

September 11, 2017 by

The Hidden OptionRead any blog with church and creativity as its focus, and you’ll find a statement like this: Christians should be leading the way in creative industries. I agree. Unfortunately, everyone’s making the statement, but few offer real ideas on how to make the vision happen.

That’s where my book The Hidden Option comes in. I wrote about how Christians can tap into creativity in their everyday lives. I also created a practical tool to help: The Possibility Matrix. But guess what? The book and matrix aren’t just for your personal life. They can influence you as a church communicator as well.

Let me explain. You see, if you want to lead the way creatively, you have to start innovating—at home and church. And innovation is different from creativity. It takes your creative ideas to the next level by crafting solutions for problems most people haven’t even identified yet.

Innovation is different from creativity.

Enter the Matrix

By now you might be asking where to find those problems. Good question! The Possibility Matrix helps with that. It identifies the next-level problems that can lead to amazing innovations.

The Matrix is super-simple to use. It starts by asking a basic question about a specific problem. For our example, let’s ask this zinger: How do I get people to arrive to church on time? That’s a tension a lot of churches experience.

So now you have a great open-ended question. Next, you create three columns:

  1. Bad Options
  2. Would Work, Except…
  3. Against God and Nature

The first column is where you put your obvious optionsthe ones you don’t like. They’re the options that create more problems than they actually solve. Still, list them. It’s important to get the mind working, thinking through all the possibilities.

Next, skip to the last column. Start listing the crazy ideas that bend the laws of physics or would strike you with a lightning bolt. I say “against God and nature” because I don’t want you to dismiss an idea too quickly. List all the ideas, no matter how nefarious. It’ll stretch your problem-solving brain and, if nothing else, prompt some laughter.

Finally, move to the center column. This is where the magic happens. This is where you write all the ideas that could work perfectlyexcept for one small detail. Write the solution, and then write what’s holding you back from going with that option. In that “except…” phrase is where you find the opportunity for innovation. It’s the next level where innovators work.

Check out this example matrix:

The Possibility Matrix

You probably see why the first two ideas are bad ideas—no one keeps coming to church if you guilt them into it. And the last two ideas break some legal and moral boundaries. The center section, though, holds some possibilities.

Exit the Matrix

Let’s break those three ideas down. Doing so gets us out of the Matrix and grounded in practical, implementable solutions.

Provide Breakfast

Churches have tried this all over the world, and they’ve often found that breakfast isn’t a big enough incentive to get people to show up on time. Your area for innovation would be to figure out how to make breakfast more of an incentive.

What about a “Make Your Own Eggs Benedict” bar? A waffle station? Cereal bar? Legit baristas serving slow-pour coffee?

Obviously, the ideas are cost prohibitive. But it might be worth creating a new Possibility Matrix for the budget issue. If not, move on to your next idea.

Put the Most Exciting Parts of the Service at the Beginning

Churches try this, too. The problem is, unless your service opener rivals what your congregation sees on YouTube, the thing you’re creating probably won’t be cool enough. You could make another Possibility Matrix here, but I’m not feeling the potential in this line of thought. It’s going to eat our budget, time, resources, and people. Let’s move on.

Get Children to Drag Parents to Church Early

Hmm. So this one’s interesting. Usually, kids hold parents up. What would happen if you turned them into your biggest advocates for getting to church early?

Except…incentive. What will make a kid drag their parents to church?

What if the coolest part of kid’s church or Sunday School happened 10 minutes before service started? You could do giveaways, fill piñatas with candy, play the best games… Now those are incentives, and you can bet kids would be upset if they missed them. They’d beg their parents to get to church early. And once kids are there early, parents are there early.

Next-level question. Possibility Matrix. Innovative solution. Done.

Innovation will cause churches to lead the way in creativity.

I’m convinced if churches start innovating their own solutions instead of following the latest trends, we’d lead the way in creativity. The key is to explore possibilities. We worship a God of possibilities and impossibilities, so let’s tap into him. And on a more practical level, download the Possibility Matrix to come up with your own ideas. Once you do, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram. I’d love to see what you’ve done.


  • Download a copy of the Possibility Matrix.
  • Read our review of The Hidden Option: Igniting Creativity to Solve Life’s Impossible Problems by Jonathan Malm.
  • Buy a copy of The Hidden Option: Igniting Creativity to Solve Life’s Impossible Problems by Jonathan Malm.
Image: Danny Navarro (Creative Commons)
Post By:

Jonathan Malm

Jonathan Malm is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of Created for More (Moody, 2014), a 30-day devotional to help you develop a more creative mind.
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One Response to “Innovation, Possible: How to Be More Innovative at Your Church”

  • Hugh Plappert
    September 17, 2017

    Great tool! Johnathan, this is awesome. I just pre-ordered your book. I will be sharing this with my Facebook and LinkedIn followers. I would like to introduce this book to my 3,400+ subscribers if it is okay with you.

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