By Emily Ferguson
Six weeks after becoming a Christian in his early 20s, Collective keynote speaker American Doug Paul felt God calling him to start something that would reach his friends with the good news he had just discovered.
Over time, he became convinced that the church as he had experienced it was not capable of reaching his friends. So, he started something that did: a church plant that multiplied from two to over 700 missional communities within seven years, made up mainly of people who were not churchgoers.
But when you talk to Doug it’s not about the growth – it’s about a gospel-fuelled passion for helping the church create new ways of reaching those whom current expressions of church are not reaching. Six years after planting the church, Doug passed on the leadership and in time moved with his wife and three children to Richmond, Virginia, to co-lead a church in the area with the sixth-highest concentration of poverty in the United States.
“In the last two years, my attention has been mainly on working with pastors, but I also work with some ‘socialpreneurs’, helping them build ministries that are adaptive and that can scale,” Doug said.
Doug is still convinced that the church has an accessibility problem, and passionately helps churches find ways to make the gospel more accessible.
“This is going to take a kind of bravery that is created by the conviction that comes from revelation given by God. You need to hear from God, ‘Be brave.’ You need to hear from God, ‘Do this.’ You need to hear from God ‘I love you no matter what.’ There is no substitute for the revelation that God gives and the kind of braveness and courage that the Spirit of God gives us. Let’s find the courage and the boldness we need and let’s do this thing together.
“It is up to every generation of Christians to make the gospel and the transformational power it offers through the Holy Spirit accessible. We have to look at our models for being the church – not just doing church – and ask: do we have an accessibility problem? Does everyone have access or is it for the few?
“The more I look at it, the more I believe we are more committed to our vehicles for doing church than the vision of what the church is meant to offer. The more expertise you have about something, the harder it is to see other ways of doing it. But the good news is we actually do have models for how we can reinvent and adapt.”
Doug believes that innovation is to a leader like a hammer is to a carpenter.
“I do not believe innovation is the only tool leaders need in their tool belt, but I believe it’s a missing one. The gospel is not at risk, and Jesus will build his church, but the church can decay and lie dormant for generations when we don’t innovate, and I don’t think that’s what God wants for his church.”
‘Ready or Not: Kingdom Innovation for a Brave New World’ is Doug’s new book, written to give hope and inspire courage around the future and stepping boldly into it.
Doug will be one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Collective. Read more about our speakers HERE.