The Ralph Moore Podcast


Supply and Innovation

Season 1, Ep. 5012

Note: These notes are an extremely truncated version of the actual podcast.


Ever have a time when you felt God had let you down—completely? I have.

Shortly after planting the first church we had gone through all the money our previous church had given us as a departing gift along with the money we had saved for a down payment on a house. We emptied the savings account, put the money into checking and mailed off the bills. We had pocket change to buy our kids an ice cream cone, but not enough to get them for ourselves.

God had supplied zilch!

In the midst of my despair, the Lord gently spoke, “I’ve taught you to abase (go without) and now I’ll teach you to abound (have plenty). Two days later the windows of heaven opened. This was God telling me that he was TEACHING through lack. That’s a very important lesson.

Paul wrote, “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Yet, I needed to hit empty to learn to function with less than I thought necessary. My point is that sometimes my vision gets in the way of his vision and having everything I think I need keeps me from looking at things through God’s eyes.

Not having what I think I need can lead to innovation if I assume that he already supplied all I need. I’m forced into a different paradigm—this is where creativity blossoms.

Innovation and Supply

Jesus made some pretty astounding statements in John 15…

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit… ‘These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain… ‘whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

His goal for us includes bearing lots of fruit—that will remain long after we depart the planet. It also includes joy which can be difficult to come by during winter when everything is brown and rainy, or when you’re burned out and lack sufficient leaders to accomplish whatever you’re trying to do.  In those down times its hard believe his words promising that the father will give us “whatever you ask…”

A Higher Purpose Than I Can See at the Moment

Along with the suffering church in first century Rome, we’re told, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…”

God created the world through his son. Jesus is creator and creative. Part of being fashioned into his image is to become more creative today than yesterday. And, tomorrow is another new opportunity. However, we’re prone to copy more than to create. We read a book and imitate the author, especially if they are outwardly more successful than we are. Not good!

God often strips us back to bareness in order to press us toward innovation. I’ve got dozens of stories about forced innovation, mostly having to do with Jesus “painting” voids onto the canvas of my life.

It is in those voids that we learned to multiply and train prospective church planters through small groups. It was the crowds being forced to sit on the floor in the aisles and on the platform, even outside looking in the windows that gave enthusiasm to our first church. It was after our church opened a free clothing store only to get ripped off by the swap meet crowd who stole stuff that the lady who started it began distributing food bank groceries in a government housing project which led to “crafts day” for little kids and a microchurch for their parents. The saga continues to make the point. Jesus shapes us as much by withholding what we don’t need as by supplying what we do.

Values drive narratives and narratives drive behaviors. Telling these stories generates even more creativity. In the end it comes to doing what he asks with what he supplies. Paul wrote, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. “

His words bring me back to Jesus’ promise of joy. We get joy when we live in fulfillment of our created purpose and part of that includes becoming more like Jesus in the area of creativity. Let both supply and the lack of it drive innovation and you’ll be a happier person. 

More Episodes


Small Place Church Planting Opportunities

Season 2, Ep. 5020
Small Place Church Planting Opportunities Church planting in small places is a new concept for me. I’ve done it for years, but somehow missed the grand opportunity and huge need that it represents.Think of urban neighborhoods and towns of fewer than 15,000 people as small places. Add the 5 million, or so, people who live an entirely rural lifestyle and the numbers are huge. Thankfully, there is a renewed focus on urban areas in the U.S. Lets talk about the 60 to 90 million people living in small towns and rural areas. The numbers vary depending on who is measuring. It’s 60 million if you look at towns smaller than 15,000 and 90 million if you think a community becomes large if it boasts more than 25,000 people. This represents a wonderful opportunity for the gospel. Everyone knows that the United States is currently the third largest mission field in the world. North America is the only continent where the church is shrinking while it grows everywhere else. Not everyone knows that 90 million people would represent the 13th largest country in the world if they were their own nation, or that these people are seriously underserved by the church. We need to think missionally toward rural and small-town America. They constitute nearly 25 percent of our entire population.Rural/Small-Town America is Growing And the opportunities are growing. Rural America lost population in the 1980s, only to reverse the process beginning in the 1990s and continuing to the present. Millions of people flee mostly the suburban commuter lifestyle to live in smaller places each year. This is different from the nasty “white flight” of a generation ago. People of all socio-economic backgrounds now make the trek. They bring with them their high-tech industrial parks, brew pubs and upscale coffee shops. What’s lacking are new churches to go with the migration. And its not just the new arrivals who need new churches. Churches across America are closing their doors. Older churches are dying faster than newer ones and the mainline denominations shrink the fastest. The unique combination of older mainline congregations that were once foundational to small communities is going away and going that way faster than churches in the suburbs. We need to replace the dying churches by planting new congregations. But replacement alone won’t touch the opportunity or the need. The 13th largest mission field in the world awaits us. The same logic holds for most urban neighborhoods.This is SignificantIn the 1970s more than 90 percent of Americans called themselves Christian of one stripe or another. Today, according to Pew Research, that number has fallen to just 71 percent. In the early 70s, 53 percent said they attend church at least once each month. In the early 2010s that number has fallen to 43 percent. Of those who say they attend on a regular basis, the 1970s tally was 38 percent. Today it has fallen to 28 percent. We are losing ground.When you consider that these numbers are magnified in smaller communities you realize there is a massive mission field that is white unto harvest and awaiting our attention.Seeing the Culture Through A Different LensI spent most of my years pastoring suburban churches. The last congregation was on the edge of an urban area of Honolulu. Things were different there. We had to plant “homegroups” in food courts and coffee shops because of unavailable parking near urban apartments. I came to realize that I unintentionally saw the world through an “us-them” paradigm. We in the suburbs got things right while urban dwellers didn’t quite get it. I simply didn’t understand the differences in needs and opportunities. Now I understand that the same is true of my understanding of rural/small-town America. This has been a good wakeup for me. Question: “Are you thinking about ‘us’ or thinking about getting the gospel to ‘them?’” Do you think “Come to my church?” or “How can we get the gospel into every corner of our land?”A Question for YouI recently discovered something which Jesus said that I had overlooked, “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mark 1:38, NIV). In referencing villages, he said, “That is why I have come.” I get it that he’s not only interested in the villages, but I have not been interested in them at all. Question: “Do you believe small towns are central to God’s plan for the church?”