Truth and Innovation are not enemies. I would even venture to say that Truth and Innovation must be best friends, more so for people who are passionate about reaching, retaining, and reclaiming our fields with a lifestyle and a message of compassion, hope, and wholeness. I say this for the following reasons:
God, the source of all truth, is an innovative God. He created
our universe, our world, and us, though there was a possibility
for failure. He could have chosen not to innovate, but
His creative spirit, combined with His love, allowed Him to
make something new and beautiful. As sons and daughters
of God, we have been given the ability and the intelligence to
Jesus, the truth in person, is innovative. During His earthly
ministry, Jesus continuously did things that His contemporaries
in ministry had not done before. He fed people after
the sermon, touched lepers, talked to children, used parables
when preaching, ate with sinners, and defended a woman who
was about to be stoned for adultery. It seems that every time
He did something new and creative, He did it to bless someone
in need. Jesus was innovative for the sake of the very people
He wanted to save, not for innovation’s sake.
Innovativeness is in the DNA of Adventism. As we look
at the history of our church, we realize that our predecessors
were willing to do things that were new and different. These innovations
helped to make a movement out of Adventism, kept
it alive, and made it a global movement. If our church founders
had been afraid of doing things that were a little different
(and at times a lot different), had they not been innovative and
received God’s blessing, perhaps we would not be where we
Think about people like James White and the creation of
our church’s first papers and magazines: Adventist Review,
Youth’s Instructor, and Signs of the Times; John Nevins Andrews
and his sacrificial travels to Europe; Anna Knight, the
first Black woman of any denomination to serve as a missionary
to India; John Harvey Kellogg’s creativeness in the health
field, which initially brought notoriety to Adventists; and the
many declarations of Ellen G. White about coming up with new
methods and ideas. I have to accept that no matter how I feel
about change and new things, an innovative spirit in the DNA
of our church has existed since our very humble beginnings.
In 1902, Ellen G. White said, “New methods must be introduced.
God’s people must awake to the necessities of the time
in which they are living. God has men [and women] whom He
will call into His service,—men who will not carry forward the
work in the lifeless way in which it has been carried forward in
the past. . . . In our large cities the message is to go forth as a
lamp that burneth. God will raise up laborers for this work, and
His angels will go before them. Let no one hinder these men of
God’s appointment. Forbid them not. God has given them their
work. Let the message be given with so much power that the
hearers shall be convinced.”1
The same Holy Spirit that led our predecessors is still alive
and willing to guide us as we reach, retain, and reclaim our
world. As we do so together, remember:
• Creative and innovative people have always had a place in God’s work, even “in the beginning . . .”
• One single method will not work for everybody everywhere; fishermen can testify to this.
• Innovation is God‘s answer to the needs of the people He wants to save through us.
• Don’t give up quickly. Some methods may not produce fruit for a long time.
• Effectiveness is best measured over a period of time.
• When offering opinions about innovation or innovators, make sure you are fully informed.
• The fact that someone does not agree with an idea does not mean that God cannot bless it. God blesses anything He wants to bless, regardless of human opinion—mine or yours.
• Being an innovator may hurt at times, yet you should not hinder what God has called you to do; if it is for an awesome cause, people will be blessed and the church will grow.
• Don’t hesitate to utilize different methods and tools for
the sake of those you would like to see saved.
Oh, and one last thing: “By our fruits we will be
known . . .”
Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, September 30, 1902.
This article was first published in Best Practices, February 18, 2015.
It has been lightly edited for Elder’s Digest. Used by permission.
Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an associate Ministerial director and leads
evangelism for the Adventist Church in North America.