At Westside, we often say, “if we could do anything, without restriction, what would we do?” This “blank canvas” kind of thinking creates innovation. So often we allow the boundaries that exist to limit our thinking and creativity. But here’s the problem: blank canvases are actually hard to find in the chaotic world where the demands of life press in on us and can stifle innovation. This tension drives me towards a two-prong approach to innovation:

1) Create open spaces in my life. Do you know Jesus was a thief? He was. He stole time from everything that was demanding attention. He took from those things and created space to hear God, to be refreshed, to breathe. Open spaces don’t just happen, they are created with intentionality. And if you don’t create space, life will close in on you and suffocate the innovation right out of you.

2) Chaos is not the enemy to innovation. It actually is the fodder for implementation. Once you steal time and create open space and hear from God, then you go back into the chaos. It is there that innovation is implemented. God wants to use the craziness to speak truth and life. It was the storm that created an opportunity for stillness; it was the blindness that created opportunity for sight; it was the hungry that created opportunity for justice. I don’t pray for a life without trouble – I pray for the creativity of God to speak into the trouble.

When I think about hosting The Well Conference, I think about creating open spaces where pastors and leaders can come and be refreshed and receive an innovative word from God for their situation, no matter how chaotic it might be. Will you join me on the mountaintop, at the well of living water, to receive from our Lord?


Steve Mickel grew up a Pastor’s kid in Oregon. After graduating from Life Pacific College in 1994, where he met and married his wife of 20 years, he and Suzanne went back to Oregon to plant the Foursquare church in Sisters. In 2001, the Mickel family went to Croatia and served as Missionaries until being called back to Oregon where Steve served as the Executive Pastor of Expansion at Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. In October 2013 Steve became Lead Pastor of Westside Church.

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