The Crystal Cathedral is a perfect example.
At its beginning, Crystal Cathedral was the leader of ministry innovation. They opened up a drive in chapel for goodness sake! They were innovators with television ministry. They were crazy innovators doing whatever it took to reach people no one else was reaching.
And then over time, the innovations stopped. The entire organization became static. They became stuck in their success. And their stuckness spelled doom for the Crystal Cathedral.
Leaders, if you are not constantly looking for better ways to reach people no one else is reaching, at best we are doing maintenance ministry, and at worst we are babysitting a ministry's slow death.
The second lesson we can learn from the Crystal Cathedral is what worked before will not always work.
The television ministry, the Crystal Cathedral itself, was a draw for folks in the 70's and 80's. The television ministry and the grand Crystal Cathedral communicated the power and the presence of God to folks living in the 70's and 80's. But those same things in today's culture no longer communicate the same message.
In fact the message of the grand Crystal Cathedral communicates to today's world is negative. The same Crystal Cathedral that once communicated God's power and grandeur communicates the grotesque disconnect of the opulence of the Crystal Cathedral and the suffering and the real need of the community blocks away from the Crystal Cathedral to the people of today.
What has never changed throughout human history is the need people have for a God who loves them enough to die for them on the cross.
What continues to change throughout human history is how that message is best communicated.
If you are not innovating, you are maintaining and declining.