People who enter into the Jesus-Way for what they can get out of it, seldom understand the "teacher-student" reality that genuine discipleship calls them to. But when men and women begin to glimpse and embrace the reality that the With-God-Life is about us submitting to God, turning-over to God,and learning from God (see Luke 10:38-42), then only everything begins to change.
I'm no saint. I'm as much of a ragamuffin as the next guy, that's for sure. In any given day I fall short about as much as I hit the mark. But wanting to grow more consistent in this key area of discipleship and daily answer God's call to intentionally enter into and stay in this kind of teacher-student relationship with Him, I am trying to come to the place where I'm systematically looking both to Him, and to others, for ways to more effectively live into this life of faith and live out this life of faith.
There are so many creative flocks out there today -- churches, shepherds, pastor-teachers, and staff members (both paid and volunteer) who are responding to this call of embracing this teacher-student relationship in ways that are compassionate, creative and at times, even downright funky. Wanting to learn from these folks, I offer the following list, which I've adapted from the good folks at www.churchstaffing.com.
Tony Morgan from Granger Community Church and Terry Storch from Fellowship Church recently put their heads together to come up with what they think are the top ten innovative churches in America. It is interesting stuff...
Here is the baseline for how the list was generated. "We decided to define church innovation like this ... Church innovation is the introduction of new, fresh, and creative ideas and practices which are intended to be used for reaching people for Christ. The main driver for innovation is often the courage and energy to better the world through the local church."
"An essential element for church innovation is that its application generates results by helping people meet Jesus and become fully-devoted followers of Christ. Another measure of this is considering: Who is leading whom? In other words, what churches are becoming the benchmark for innovative ministry strategies and helping to resource other churches? It's unscientific. It's just our opinion." But that's what Ben wanted.
So here is Terry and Tony's America's Top 10 Innovative Churches ...
- Seacoast Church (www.seacoastchurch.org). The church has nine locations throughout South Carolina. Led by Senior Pastor Greg Surratt, Seacoast Church started in 1988 in Mt. Pleasant, SC.
- Willow Creek Community Church (www.willowcreek.org). The main campus is located in South Barrington, IL with three additional locations in the Chicago metro area. Willow, which started in 1975, is led by Senior Pastor Bill Hybels.
- New Spring Community Church (www.newspring.cc). Located in Anderson, SC, Senior Pastor Perry Noble leads this innovative church. New Spring Community Church started in 1999.
- National Community Church (www.theaterchurch.com). The church launched in 1996 and now meets in two locations in Washington, DC. National's senior pastor is Mark Batterson.
- Buckhead Church (www.buckheadchurch.org). Located in Atlanta, GA, this is a satellite campus of North Point Community Church led by Senior Pastor Andy Stanley. Buckhead started in 2001.
- Mosaic (www.mosaic.org). Mosaic meets in five different locations throughout the Los Angeles, CA area including their location in downtown L.A. at Club Mayan. Erwin McManus is the lead pastor.
- Bay Area Fellowship (www.bayareafellowship.com). Located in Corpus Christi, TX, Senior Pastor Bill Cornelius leads this innovative church. Bay Area Fellowship started in 1997.
- Journey Church (www.journeychurch.cc). The church is led by Senior Pastor Clark Mitchell. Journey Church started in 2001, and it's located in Norman, OK.
- Daybreak (www.daybreak.tv). Located in Hudsonville, MI, Senior Pastor Wes Dupin leads this innovative church. Daybreak started in 1989.
- Life Church (www.lifechurch.tv). The church currently has five locations in Oklahoma and soon will be opening two new sites in Phoenix, AZ. Craig Groeschel is the church's senior pastor. Life Church started in 1996 in Oklahoma City, OK.
- Granger Community Church (www.gccwired.com). The church is located in Granger, IN near South Bend. Granger's senior pastor is Mark Beeson. Mark started the church in 1986.
- Fellowship Church (www.fellowshipchurch.com). Located throughout the heart of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, Ed Young leads this innovative church and its four locations. Fellowship Church started in 1990 in Irving, TX.