The Means Make the Ends

Us humans like to cut to the chase, our thoughts often jumping straight to the end. For Innové Studios that end is the social ventures that are launched. This is understandable. They are exciting, after all!

In fact, our last update shared the five winning ventures of Project Flourish, the implementation of the Innové process by First Presbyterian Church of Houston, TX.

But the unheralded story of Innové is the process. I’m talking about the process that reminds congregations that their Monday through Friday vocational experience is important to the church and can (and should) be used whole-heartedly for the sake of mission. I’m talking also about the process that places congregations into cross-generation mentoring relationships with social entrepreneurs that adds tremendous value to their ideas, regardless of if they ultimately receive a cash award.

The process of Innové Studios has always been the secret sauce, so with that in mind, I want to share some process stories from Project Flourish below:

“We were not selected as one of the award recipients. However, the value that was gained through the process was immeasurable. I look back at where we were when I started and the jumbled, nebulous mess that was my business plan/strategy and I can hardly believe how far we’ve come.

I believe the greatest value that we gained was the refining process. Working through constructing a focused business plan and then further developing a 7 minute pitch was such a frustrating process! However, the end result has been such a valuable and refined vision and message that I am so much more effectively, and more importantly, efficiently able to deliver.”

–Brian Bean, CEO Real World Classroom, Project Flourish Semi-Finalist


“It was a wonderful experience that helped take us to another level. Feedback from our Navigator was very helpful. Requiring a business plan forced us to organize our financials, strategy, and business model. The quality of the Shark Tank pitch process was off the charts.

But the best part was showing the importance of putting God first and focusing our mission with that being central. We now pray together more and it has brought us closer spiritually even though we have been friends for over 20 years.”

–Donald Flenoy, CEO Intelliaide, Project Flourish Semi-Finalist


“This process gives church members a wonderful way to participate in what the church is doing in our community. It teaches and reminds us that service is most important in the body of Christ and helps us participate in where the church spends its money. Also, it brings a focus to how we live as Christians in our careers as well as our personal lives away from work. It teaches us how to mesh our spiritual lives in every aspect of daily living.

Project Flourish also renewed me spiritually and brought me to a place of worship and thanksgiving and inspired me to want to bring love to our hurting world. It also reminded me that by focusing on God’s mission, I can be creative. I was encouraged to do more for those God calls us to help and serve.”

–Jill Zivley, Project Flourish Navigator: Rescue Houston

“Simply put, this was an incredible experience. I love how the church is supporting gospel minded ideas impacting the city and the nation, but also looking for more than just the heart behind the venture. Many ideas start from the heart but fail because there is no strategy and business development undergirding it.

It’s refreshing and exciting to see the church rise up and create this impactful opportunity for so many!”

–Allison Madrigal, CEO Rescue Houston, Award Recipient


“Project Flourish had the capacity to engage both our congregation and those outside our congregation in ways that they have not previously been engaged, particularly our younger adult congregants.”

–Doug Foshee, Project Flourish Judge

The 5 social ventures of Project Flourish joined the 11 launched in Minneapolis. They will soon be joined by social ventures launched by First Presbyterian Church Atlanta, as Innové Studios is working to help them ramp up their process, which will be called Epiphany.

Our hearts swell with thanksgiving when we think about how many more people will be impacted in Houston and Atlanta. But, as the stories above remind us, it’s not just the ‘ends’ that should make our hearts swell, the ‘means’ matter just as much, if not more so!