Innovation Resources

Why Be Innovative?

The world is changing!  We are now in the post-modern world and the only stable thing is that there will be more change. Being innovative and experimenting allows us to be ready for future changes.

The United Church of Canada has taken a courageous step in creating EDGE to be its innovation arm and a network for ministry development. It took a further leap of faith by launching Embracing the Spirit, which is funding communities of faith in re-imaging what church can be outside of Sunday.

Since 2016 there have been over 400 initiatives funded with:

  • 90% of communities of faith have experienced new life through their new initiative with 98% more able to listen to God and 99% are more able to listen to their community
  • The average initiative has 8 leaders with 76% experiencing new leaders emerging
  • The average initiative has 4.7 partners with 50% quoting the most unexpected outcome being the support of the community

Want to hear or read about the evaluation and outcomes of Embracing the Spirit?

Embracing the Spirit Outcomes Video Presentation 

Embracing the Spirit Outcomes Slides 

How to Start Being EDGE-Y?

Step 1: Find this Webpage

Lot of communities of faith want to be more ‘EDGE-y’ but they don’t know where or how to get started.  You did it! You have found it!  This is the page with tons of answers to this question. Nice work.

Step 2: Start Hearing the Stories

There are tons of things that are already happening across the country that are inspiring. Learn about them through any of the following ways. 

Story Map: Check out the map of grant projects across the country including Embracing the Spirit & Seeds of Hope projects. You can search by type of grant, type of location, type of initiative, and zoom in on your region to see what people around you are up to. Maybe there is something to do together!

Newsletter: Sign up for Embracing the Spirit’s newsletter that comes out with bi-weekly with stories, resources, and hope.

Events: There are lots of ways to plug in & be part of the growing network of communities of faith that are up to something new. 

  • Embracing the Spirit Fellowship: Every Monday at 1pm EST we gather via Zoom to hear an innovative leader talk about their journey. Here is the playlist of past storytellers.
  • Sustainability Cohort: Every month there is an online gathering of leaders who are building social enterprises and worrying about financial sustainability. 
  • Impact Measurement Workshop: 3 times a year there is an online impact measurement workshop. 

And there are lots of face to face opportunities as well! Find the entire calendar of EDGE-y Events on our calendar.

Step 3: Learn About The Pathway & Mindset Change

The most common difference that we have seen between communities of faith that are flourishing versus floundering is their mindset.  How are they approaching conversations and the world?  Is it with abundance or scarcity?  Is it open minded to new relationships and partnerships or is it with fear?

This is one of the hardest things to do & yet it is the most important thing to do. Here are some quick things to start trying: 

  • Definitely watch the video! It will give an overview of the mindset change and the pathway to change that we are seeing happening across Canada.
  • Work through your own “why”. Why you are doing the work that you are doing? Why do you care so much?  You might be surprised of the “whys” around the table and each other’s stories of what has brought them there. 
  • Start using the language “yes, and”. Start removing the language “no, but”.  Even if you start doing this yourself, it will start having ripple effects. 
  • What is church? Acknowledge all of the things that you are doing individually and as a community of faith to live out your faith. Understand that it is more than Sunday morning.  Many of us care for others, we volunteer in and beyond our community of faith, and we live out our faith in many different ways. This can be through art, social enterprise, volunteering, and relationships. Ask yourself “Is this church?”
  • Celebrate! There are great things happening all around.  Having a new relationship with a community leader is important.  Having a new leader as part of an outreach program is great. The number of programs and who they impact (led by the community of faith AND by our partners) might amaze you. Take the time to celebrate where the energy is and what is working. 

Additional Resources: 

Pathway to Change presentation with an overview of the mindset

EDGE Coaches: We offer coaches to walk this pathway with your community of faith and to help you stay on track

Step 4: Start Talking to People!

Just start speaking to people that you haven’t really spoken to in awhile. 

  • Speak with your neighbours
  • Speak with your renters
  • Speak with business owners
  • Walk the neighbourhood
  • Consider having a Community Round Table 

You will be shocked by what comes back to you within just a couple weeks. Then remember to celebrate it. 

Step 5: Try Something New Together

We have found that about 50% of the ideas come from the conversations that communities of faith have started. Once you start having conversations, some ideas will sprout out of them. 

If you need more support in coming up with any idea, here is an entire toolkit to do this. 

And if you are interested in social enterprise ideas that are a good fit with United Church’s resources  & strengths, EDGE commissioned a research project on this in 2017 that might help you think differently about what is possible.

What Supports Are Out There?

Once you have your idea & you want to get started, now what?  What are the supports and resources to get this off the ground?

  • Idea Consults: If you are thinking about a new idea (really anything!) we’d love to connect with you about this.  Please email Carla or just book an appointment with her.
  • Funding: How to fund these ideas?

  • Network Weaving: Become part of the growing network of innovative leaders!
    • Sustainability Cohorts: Peer to peer support as you get your idea off the ground is important!  There are 2 sustainability cohorts that are run for 5 months each year starting in either January 2020 or July 2020.
    • Impact Measurement Workshops: There are 3 online impact measurement workshops available for you to attend before you apply for a grant or after you have received one.  This helps you with the clarity of your idea and how to measure its social, ecological, and spiritual impact as it grows.
    • Storytelling: Lots of ways to get your story out there!  There is the newsletter, social media, the event page, and weekly Embracing the Spirit Fellowship gatherings.
    • Innovation Clusters: Innovation clusters are being launched in 2020 in partnership with Regional Councils to bring together innovative leaders that are in close proximity geographically.

All of these gatherings & opportunities are on the EDGE Calendar 

Additional Resources

Want to test out your idea?  Come to a Social Innovation Challenge near you to connect with other innovators, refine your idea, and find new partners.

Quadruple Bottom Line Assessment Tool

Reweaving theconnectional fabricthat makes us United.

Resources for new & renewing ministries,
whatever your situation or context.

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Embracing the Spirit

Embracing the Spirit is a new learning network and innovation fund. It aims to spur innovation, pilot new programs, support successful initiatives, create a learning network for faith communities, and support both new and renewing faith communities across the United Church of Canada.

Find out how you can be part of Embracing the Spirit.

Renovating, Repurposing, or Rebuilding?

The EDGE property team & consultants can help
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