What does a faith community's culture have to do with soil?

To borrow a metaphor from Jesus and gardening, a faith community’s culture constitutes the soil into which an innovative seed is planted. Healthy, fruitful plants cannot grow in depleted or neglected soil. Healthy cultural soil nourishes innovative ministries that engage people’s assets and needs so the community can experience the love and grace of Christ in profound ways.

The Innovation Lab developed a tool called the Innovation Culture Index (ICI) to help faith communities self-assess their culture and its impacts on innovation. 

Characteristics that are strongly associated with a community’s ability to foster innovation are grouped into nine distinct indicators that examine the community’s mindset, structure, relationships, and habits.

How is the Innovation Culture Index different from other congregational assessments?

Some assessments are designed to measure a church’s general health by drawing on traditional metrics like attendance, new members, and program participation. But traditional metrics can’t tell you whether your church is ready to innovate. The ICI specifically measures what’s going on within the church’s culture related to nine key areas that will impact the ability to enact change and develop innovative forms of ministry. You’ll learn the information you need to know about the culture's strengths and areas for improvement to navigate innovation effectively.


When you purchase the ICI, you’ll receive:

  • A custom, online questionnaire for members of your faith community;
  • Custom aggregated group scores;
  • Group discussion materials that will help you facilitate discussion about your scores and give common language to vulnerable topics, and
  • Customized coaching from the Lab staff to help you strategize appropriate next steps.

This tool can be used by individual faith communities and faith-based non-profits, denominational bodies, seminaries and universities. We also offer licensing for use with multiple churches or organizations.

What faith leaders are saying about the Innovation Culture Index:


Rev. Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean - Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary

“The ICI is a fantastic — and fun — way to launch a conversation about organizational change. It has been an essential tool for the churches we work with who are exploring new ways to approach ministry in a post-Covid landscape. I recommend it constantly!”

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Mark Bogart - Director of Youth Ministry at Memorial Drive UMC in Houston, TX

"Our work with the Innovation Culture Index helped us unearth essential truths about our staff's and congregation's relationships with risk, relationships, and motivation, rather than follow our biased perceptions. Although our points of view and experiences differ, our staff is equipped with common language that frees us to share more safely and vulnerably. Assumptions about who we are as a staff and as a church body have given way to both encouraging and humbling realities. We've discovered that our eagerness to innovate must be met with a willingness to embrace the beauties and challenges of inevitable failure."


Danny Preston - Lay Leader at Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Detroit, MI

“We always preach about how we are such a loving and hospitable church but, when we started deep diving into the Innovation Culture Index to see what was the root cause of issues in other areas, we found out it was all about connectivity. People outside of the leadership were not feeling connected. We needed to create opportunities for relationships to be built for people who aren’t necessarily active in our ministries. So we started what we call, ‘Coffee On Us,’ led by someone who is just beginning to get more involved in the church, as a way for people to fellowship and connect.”

The Common Culture Interventions Guide

A companion resource to the Innovation Culture Index

Once your faith community takes the Innovation Culture Index online questionnaire, your results will help unearth opportunities for growth. But how do you grow? Where do you go from here? Our Common Culture Interventions Guide will help you discern your next steps. With interventions designed to move the needle in each of the nine areas assessed by the Innovation Culture Index, you'll have tangible steps your faith community can take in order to cultivate the "soil" of your culture, so that innovative ideas will be more likely to take root.

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Pricing for the Innovation Culture Index is on a sliding scale based on your faith community's average weekly attendance:

ICI Pricing guide EMAIL


If you are interested in Tier 3, which includes the 18-month Ministry Transformation Lab experience, please email innovation@cymt.org for pricing and other information.

*Prices are subject to change.

LAB Innovation Culture Index Pricing at a glance EMAIL-1

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