Series: The New Humanity
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Tim Gillespie
Live Wonder: Verity Were
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Moe Stiles
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 43:1-7,18-19 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: When was the last time you thought of church as the most innovative place in your life? We don’t normally think of church as innovative. In fact, we have a tendency to think that church is going to be the least innovative place in our lives. We don’t expect much, and unfortunately, we don’t get much either. Why do you think this is the case? If the church is to reflect who God is, do we think that God is not innovative? He is certainly creative—He created everything! If that is the case, and innovation and creativity go hand in hand, then shouldn’t churches be the most innovative places in the world?
We have all sat in church meetings where even moving the order of anything in the service is seen as a deeply heretical suggestion. This has become a travesty in so many churches that can’t move and bend with the Holy Spirit’s leading.
But innovation is not heresy. In fact, it is the image of God! There is a theology of innovation that is worth mentioning. We call it “traditioned innovation.” Tradition and innovation go hand in hand. Traditioned innovation is a way of thinking and living that points toward the future in light of the past. It is a habit of being that requires both a deep fidelity to the tradition that has brought us to the present and a radical openness to the innovations that will carry us forward.
The truth is that God has always been an innovator. Thematically, there are a few ways that God has been innovating since creation! But we shouldn’t forget that even creation was a great innovation to begin with. We cannot make ourselves, no matter what the modern world tells us. We are not self-autonomous or self-made people. The book of Genesis lays bare the fact that we are always preceded.
In this way, we are one of God’s most amazing innovations. We may not think of ourselves that way, but in the beginning, God created. . . the last part of that narrative ends with the creation of humanity. That means that we are innovations!
Recalibrate: When was the last time that you thought of yourself as an innovation—or an innovator? Where is the most innovative space in your life? How can you make your church experience more innovative? How can you hold in tension the tradition that brought the church to where it is, and yet honor the creativity of God by being as creative as He is in your life?
Respond: List three places in church where creativity and innovation might be implemented in your church experience. Then write a couple of paragraphs describing what that might look like in your weekly services. Share it with three other people and get their input.
Research: One of the best books on innovation and worth your time is: The Art Of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm.
Remember: “Behold, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19, ESV).
Dr. Timothy Gillespie is lead pastor of Crosswalk Church in Redlands, CA. He also teaches at several universities and consults on mission integration for Adventist Health.
Discuss the Words to Remember with your little one. Sometimes we may try a new thing and it doesn’t go the way we plan. For example, learning to ride a bike. Someone who knows how to ride a bike makes it look easy, but that may not be your little one’s experience the first time they try to ride. Even though new things are sometimes hard, we can take heart the truth that God is always there to help us. He knows what it’s like to make or try a new thing too.
Have you ever wanted to play and not been allowed to? Maybe you were too young or the group already had too many players. The prophet Isaiah wrote this down hundreds of years before Jesus was born: “Behold I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). The new thing that Jesus did, by giving His life for us, was to make a way so everyone who wants to can play. Jesus invites all of us to play on Team Jesus.
So last week we talked about dreaming and visioning. In all of your 10-12 years of life, have you ever imagined yourself as an adult? Do you wonder where you will be in your twenties, thirties, or forties? I have often reflected on my childhood life, trying to remember if I ever imagined I would be where I am today.
The first verse of the passage this week has been one of my life texts (I have a few). These are texts I think about literally. What do I mean by that? Well, the first ten years of my life, I lived on a beautiful island called Samoa. It really is beautiful—you should tell your parents to plan a trip there. (Like really, plan your next vacation there!) The world seemed so big that my little brain could not have fathomed that in my early forties (yes, I am that old, and no, I don’t always act like it), I would be living in the United States, and be married and pastoring a church! In my wildest dreams never did I ever think that this would be my life now.
Here’s the thing with God—He is not just a Creator, He is a re-Creator! He is constantly up to something—something new and exciting! I love it because I love newness and excitement! And just when we think this is all there is to life, He goes and shows us what He is capable of. Wherever you are right now this week, know this: our God says, ‘“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” And because you belong to Him, watch Him do amazing things in your life. Trust me: this is only part of the story that He is writing about your life.
I can easily think of a few things that scare me: heights, high-risk activities, and my car getting stolen. One of the things that scares me the most is the fear of getting scared. When October rolls around, entertainment tends to lean towards the scary side so I avoid the Halloween aisles in stores, along with haunted houses or anything else that could potentially scare me. Of all the things that scared me, something that could be scarier is the idea that somehow Jesus didn’t exist. We see all the horrible things happening nationally and internationally. Sometimes these could lead us to wonder where God is. As we continue to explore this text, we’ll read a lot of promises. If you haven’t already, take some time to start your own notebook of God’s promises. See how many promises you can find in this passage.
Verity Were is a registered nurse at the largest pediatric intensive care unit in Sydney, Australia. She attends Kellyville Adventist church with her husband and two toddlers.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Moe Stiles is lead pastor at Oasis Church in Vancouver, WA. She is married to Adrian and is mother to Caleb and Johnny.
Vanessa Rivera is a therapist at a community mental health center in Denver, CO, and serves as the faith engagement pastor at Boulder Church.