9 Innovative Ministries
Updated: Mar 23
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"Name it/Claim it"megachurches bleeding you dry? Is traditional service too intimidating since the only Latin you know is from traffic court? Or maybe you have baggage like a Kardashian (in every way, and... yeah, that's a lotta ways).
Don't worry, God's house is big enough for ya. You just need something to break the ice. Perhaps a common interest or a novel approach would help. The good news is no matter who you are or what you're into (or trying to get out of) there's a ministry that can lead you to the help, hope, and healing the Gospel provides. Here are just a few of these 9 Innovative Ministries.
Let's kick this pig!
9. Popcorn Ministry
Sometimes you just gotta go where the people are. And sometimes your church has to burn down before you get the hint.
Case in point: in 2013 the Cross River Church in Mobile, Alabama caught fire, and the congregation needed to meet elsewhere. In a bind, the pastor cut a deal with the manager of Wynnsong 16 Cinemas and started holding services there during off hours. It was a big success, and the theater made a few bucks on concessions.
Many churches have movie theater outreach now, and by most accounts, it's an easy switch for the worshipers, what with the easy parking, popcorn, comfy seats, huge video, and Dolby sound. Win-win, right?
Not so for the worship team, which has to Load In, Sound Check, Run Show, and Load Out like Pantera's road crew on a cold Tuesday. And all before Toy Story 15 starts at 11 AM.
8. Mr. Rogers
Methodist minister Fred Rogers went harder in the studio than any televangelist this side of Billy Graham (who was more of a live act). You probably didn't notice because Mr. Rogers exemplified Christian love and gentleness on secular PBS, which discouraged evangelism. So he led by example, with a ministry of niceness that makes Bob Ross look almost mean.
And the Big Boss of Nice did it for decades, often covering tough topics for kids with remarkable grace. When Jim Crow laws prohibited blacks and whites in public swimming pools, he broke color barriers with nothing more than a kiddie pool, a shared towel, and a friend.
Mr. Rogers always showed children that God loves them just the way they are, even when he wasn't allowed to say it. Who else could inspire a packed New York subway car to sing "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"? No cap that happened.
7. MMA Ministry
"Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can? The Victorian-era Muscular Christianity movement thought so and promoted boxing to counter the perceived feminization of the church.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) adds wrestling takedowns and jiu-jitsu holds to the boxing ruleset. It's quick, brutal, and growing. John Renken, pastor at Xtreme Ministries MMA wants in, believing martial arts between consenting opponents fosters the self-discipline and respect for others that can lead young men to Jesus. Many of today's MMA champions are Christian, btw.
Critics say the Bible prohibits combat sports, citing imago Dei and Jesus' specific call for nonviolence. Others (wrestlers, natch) say Jacob wrestled with God and won His blessing. They'll also remind you that Jesus didn't tap.
6. Veggie Tales
Style is one of the Enemy's favorite weapons. Bad guys always have spendy clothes, cool gadgets, and don't get me started on Darth Vader's OP ride
Enter Phil Vischer's and Mike Nawrocki's big idea: teach kids the gospel using production values equal to or better than what Hollywood offered. And did they have a show for you.
Their hit Veggie Tales fruit and vegetable characters told Bible stories and life lessons in clever and zany ways. Production started in 1993 on VHS, moved to DVD/Blu-ray, and even aired on NBC for 3 years. It's the GOAT Christian children's franchise and generations of kids have grown up Veggie. Their souls are better for it. Can ya say that about Hollywood kids' media these days? Yikes.
5. The Bible Project
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the Bible Project on YouTube is worth... (carry the one...)... more words.
Giving animated walkthroughs of every book in the Bible (and then some), this brilliant YouTube channel is a boon to Christians and non-Christians alike.
5-10 minute videos lay out the structure and themes of each book using "hand-drawn" animated words and pictures. The books come to life, and the theology is sound.
An excellent primer before and after your actual bible reading.
So yeah, you could see this as a Spark Notes ministry for Internet natives. But you will catch themes and typologies you missed between genealogies and tent measurements.
Case in point: Leviticus in 8 minutes. You're welcome.
4. Texas Baptist Men
"Yo, dude. You Baptist? You know how to run a chainsaw, right? The Red Cross will be showing up in an hour or two."
Commonly known as Texas Baptist Men, TBM empowers Christians to perform radical acts of service and compassion. Since 1967, TBM volunteers have delivered aid and evangelism to millions of hurting people, while raising the next generation to go and do likewise (Luke 10:37). As a result of its service, TBM has helped start and train disaster relief groups in all 50 states, giving birth to the third-largest disaster relief network in the nation. TBM work includes a Disaster Relief Ministry, a Water Ministry, a Builders Ministry, and a Discipleship Ministry. Pro Tip: Firing up a chainsaw in discipleship class wakes those little buggers up. Some even put down their cell phones.
20 years into the fight, XXXChurch counters porn consumption with resources to fight the addiction. All in a supportive environment that leads people to fearless and shameless independence.
Men, women, spouses, and young adults can go to XXXchurch.com to:
take quizzes to gauge their addiction level
join an online support group
download online reporting software
chat with a confidential one-on-one sponsor
XXXchurch even exhibits at the yearly Adult Entertainment Expo, manning a booth side-by-side with porn merchants. And the church has won their respect. That's because XXXchurch reaches out not only to users but also to suppliers and performers, expressing equal concern for their souls and well-being. In fact, many former performers testify on XXXchurch.com, detailing their regrets about being in the industry.
2. I Am Second
A Dallas experiment of 20 short testimonial films caught fire in 2008, one-shotted Livestrong, and cornered the plastic wristband market for the foreseeable future.
The early videos were sparse and raw, filmed with a seated subject detailing their journey to Christ. Each film ended with the same line: "I am second.", underscoring the need to Put Jesus First. This was as real as it gets.
Today? Sure, it's fun to snark about 150 far-slicker films with far prettier people, some famous, some not, some angling for a People magazine cover story. It's easy to gripe that some videos require a purchase, and WOW are they merched up.
None of that matters. What matters is if just one story resonates with someone who needs to hear it. For many, this may be the only church-ish resource they know of. So it's their first step, and we all come to God from somewhere.
Ps. Janine's a DFW local, and she's the real deal. Mess with her and you mess with... a much bigger guy doing me a favor.
1. Fearless Series
Many churches have programs to prevent sexual abuse, but few know what to do with current victims. Who ministers to them? No one touches this topic with an 11-foot pole in someone else's dream.
Enter the Fearless Series for Women. Designed for victims to kickstart the discussion, the 5-session videos, study guide, and workbook enable survivors of church sexual abuse to go HAM on this overdue conversation.
At first, Dr. James Reeves struggled to get the ministry off the ground, but scandals in the Baptist church and elsewhere have spiked interest nationally. And he's not slowing down anytime soon. Up Next: The Fearless Series for Men.
Bias Alert: Dr. Reeves (you can ask about the eyepatch, but you can't ask the last guy who did, nameen?) baptized the author at Celebration Church in Fort Worth, TX.