Twenty-two years ago, alongside Rod Hugen and a few other dedicated individuals, I helped establish the Village Church within the humble setting of a Messianic Jewish congregation’s building. Right from the start, I was passionate about the idea of reinvention. My firm belief was that community and creativity flourish when we approach things with a fresh perspective, akin to reinventing the wheel. For the Village, this translated into creating our own discipleship materials and processes, composing our own music, and reshaping our preaching and teaching sessions to encourage questions and dialogues about the sermons.
This approach required us to think innovatively and, at times, intentionally limit our use of the abundant materials, music, and resources usually accessible to churches. A key part of this strategy was accepting the possibility of failure. Our guiding principle, “Unhindered by quality control,” wasn’t an excuse to neglect quality. Instead, it was a call for everyone to apply their talents freely, being open to the reality of imperfect results.
Why choose such a demanding approach? Our reasoning was simple: we held the belief that each congregation possesses unique gifts and talents, given by the Spirit, to create a distinct expression of Jesus’ church. Over-reliance on pre-made materials or passive engagement can result in a lack of spiritual dynamism and hinder growth. By crafting original music that mirrors the community’s bond with God, a deeper connection with Jesus and an attunement to the Spirit’s presence within the community are fostered. In a similar vein, when leaders take on the task of developing their own Bible study resources, they not only hone their teaching and leadership abilities but also infuse their work with a genuine reflection of their personal journey with Jesus. Engaging in this ongoing process of creative reinvention allows a community to cultivate a thriving and innovative atmosphere, setting the stage for remarkable and unexpected developments.
The true value of this approach becomes evident in its success within small churches, which fundamentally form the backbone of the global church community. Most churches around the world, about 90%, have congregations of fewer than 150 members. These smaller congregations are often brimming with talented individuals eager to volunteer and contribute in diverse ways. Their skills range from music and art to teaching, preaching, and more. This rich tapestry of talents enables these communities to make a significant and meaningful impact in the world.