Saturday, June 20, 2009

Innovating Christianity(?!)

Organizations, including churches, corporations, and universities, continually face the challenge of new and unsettling ideas. The preservation of longstanding corporate values, ideals, and principles is the sine qua non as new ideas are considered. Personal and group alignment with the “main thing” helps guarantee organizational perseverance, and the organization doesn’t want to fall prey to every new idea. As we learned in Ephesians 4, the faithful are enjoined “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…”

And yet, without fresh ideas and innovation, an organization quickly stagnates and dies. IDEO CEO Tom Kelley noted that leadership plays an important role in ushering new ideas into the organization: “You are not just in charge of today’s operations. You are responsible for making sure there is a tomorrow. You must constantly juggle the balls necessary to make new projects happen, to replace a just-finished innovation with a fresh exploration of another opportunity.”

This begs some important questions. Are there definable differences between new and untried ideas, doctrine, and dogma? How do we separate what is cultural baggage from essential biblical truth? When are orthodoxy, tradition, and best practices essential foundations, and when do they become unnecessary weighty impediments? What is the connection between personal and organizational revelation? In the crucible of idea consideration, can the process of discernment be speeded up or improved? What roles do leaders play in organizational acceptance of new information, and what roles do employees play in vetting new ideas prior to the leader’s acceptance of them? These important questions lie at the nexus of change management, the life of ideas, values transmission, and ideals preservation. These are dark woods that many fear and consciously avoid. It is an area that we must nonetheless choose to explore with an open mind and committed heart.

Dr. Gary Oster
Regent University
School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship


Innovation, values, corporate history, doctrine, dogma, leadership


Kelley, T. (2005). The Ten Faces of Innovation. New York: Currency Doubleday.