I’ve been thinking about the “Innovation Bell Curve.” I first saw this a few years ago in the book “Living the Life you were meant to Live” by Tom Paterson.
Ever since that day, I’ve wondered where I am on the bell curve, but I’ve always considered what happens to people and/or movements as they become more set in their ways.
Basically the curve works like this: 5% are innovators – 13% are early adopters – 34% are early majority adopters – 34% are late majority adopters – and 16% are laggards (They’re called “Nostalgic” now because that sounds nicer).
There seems to be a natural progression towards becoming nostalgic. Even the most innovative, cutting edge person seems to have a bent towards being set in their ways after time. I can totally understand why. Why change what used to work? What’s interesting is we usually don’t ask when things stopped working? Usually we can’t tell. Then the problem usually isn’t the method or practice, it’s everyone else.
I’ve been thinking about what keeps a church and/or a leader from suffering the same fate. I don’t have this totally figured out, but I think three things are huge:
#1 – keep innovating. Constantly pushing the envelope can help us from becoming what led many of us to want to innovate and create in the first place. This means we have to change things up! Create a culture of change in your church where people don’t feel like things can’t change. Instead, they expect things to change.
#2 – Limit the number of sacred cows – A sacred cow is anything we hold to that isn’t a Scriptural mandate. That could be type of dress, order of service, music style, and a million other things. The more sacred cows we have, the less flexibility we have to innovate. They create invisible walls that crowd our creativity.
#3 – Stay open to the Spirit – Here’s my pet peeve: People who talk about staying open to the Spirit, yet only acknowledge someone being led by the Spirit if they do exactly the same thing they did. I think we should be a bit more charitable than that. The Holy Spirit may lead you to do something innovate, just remember that innovators generally take their arrows in the back! Then after some time, everyone realizes God was really working in that person and most jump on board.