Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Making Innovators?

Todd Rhoades quotes extensively from a guy by the name of Patrick Scriven:
The next time I hear a pastor argue that what the church really needs is more innovative pastors I might lose my hair. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against innovation or against innovative pastors in principle. The church certainly needs transformation and we desperately need folks with new ideas. My problem is with our temptation to locate innovation with the clergy and the way it perpetuates a savior mythology, one that oppresses them as much as it does us we lay folk.
That’s a quote from Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Our churches need, desperately, to become places of change. While the occasional new idea from the pastor can be good modeling, the pastor that innovates continuously sucks the air out of the church and leaves no room for innovation elsewhere. Our churches would be better served by clergy who excelled at creating and nurturing cultures of innovation.

I would expect that some might say that this sentiment is nice but they know, or serve, churches where creating a culture of innovation is impossible. Where we find this to be true we should be quick to lock the doors and shutter the windows. Before we do this however, we should consider that there is a difference between a church that continuously rejects its pastor’s new ideas and one that refuses to create their own when given a chance.

The Spirit of God is the church’s true innovator. Relocating the process of innovation where we know the Spirit resides – the community – is our most faithful path forward.
I am forced to wonder if the culture God needs to create in the church is one of "innovation?" Is the mission of the church any different now than it was 2000 years ago? Of course, we may be discussing innovation in the limited sense of how we fulfill that mission, but even about that I wonder.

You know, it's funny - technology has changed so much about how we do things, and yet nothing has changed. Take wood working for example. We have developed all sorts of machines to aid the wood worker. But to build a truly excellent piece of furniture, no matter how much of that vaunted technology the builder will employ, it will come down to the builder using chisels and abrasives to fine tune the joints to that perfect fit. Sure, you can buy lots of furniture built entirely by machine, but it is of lesser quality that the stuff where the artisan has done his best.

Regardless of how much we innovate in the church, making disciples will come down to what it has always come down do. SO the question becomes do we need to innovate so we can make more "cheaper knock-off" Christians or do we need to build the skills necessary to build the finest Christians out there? There are economic reasons why we buy cheap knock-off furniture, but what is our motivation to settle for cheap knock-off Christianity?

The reason we buy cheap knock-off furniture is a lack of capital. we can never get enough cash together to buy the good stuff so we get the lesser stuff. We will probably have to replace it again in our lives, but at least we can afford it. Can people replace Christianity later in their lives when it breaks down due to inferior construction?

To learn how to wood work well, you learn the old skills first. Until you can handle a plane a chisel and sandpaper - a table saw and router are cool, but your work product is still mediocre. I think rather than innovate, the church need to learn the old skills first. We are craftsmen, not manufacturers,


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