Thursday, December 20, 2007

Innovation Meets Christmas

Holidays usually aren't about innovation. In fact it is the opposite - they are about tradition. They epitomize the way things have always been done and that is what we love about them. When I think of Christmas, I think of the bread my mom always makes or the certain Christmas music we always listen to. But in the midst of all of this tradition and nostalgia, there is room for innovation.

One of those areas really comes out in your stage of life. Depending on where we are in life - single, married without kids, surrounded by kids, empty-nesters or seniors - we will celebrate Christmas differently. We will take those traditions and apply them in new and creative ways to make them relevant and meaningful.

When I think about innovation in the context of Christmas, meaning is the word that resonates. I am always looking for new and creative ways to capture the meaning of what God did by sending His son. We do that with our children by celebrating Advent - which is a complex process of songs, stories, snacks, blowing out candles and placing that day's character on the advent calendar. It is further complicated by the turn taking and tracking that is required. But in that whole process we are finding new and innovative ways to share with them what this holiday is all about.

How are you innovating in your efforts to bring meaning to this season?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hard Thinking / Soft Thinking

Today I gave a presentation about this topic and people seemed to respond very well to it. The idea is this . . .
Soft Thinking is the creative, macro-level, brainstorming that allows people to work on new ideas and be innovative.
Hard Thinking is the actionable and measurable thinking that gets a project done.

I think that we tend to glorify the one that comes easiest to us. Those people who are creative and big thinkers love to sit around and dream. Those who are practical doers love to get the job done well.

The challenge is that both things are critical. You have to have a dynamic integration of soft thinking and hard thinking to really create innovation. Because a genuinely new idea is no good without follow through and on the other side good follow through on a boring idea gets no traction.

Unfortunately, the leader of a project, department, or organization usually surrounds themselves with people who think like them instead of the opposite. So if a leader is a soft thinker they tend not to bring around them hard thinkers to help them make their ideas come about. Innovation in non-profits will only happen when we are thinking about how we think and pulling the right people together to be effective.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Overcoming Fear

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. - Marie Curie

We live in a time of fear. Whether it be identity theft, international terrorism or new technology . . . much of modern society is shrouded in fear.

Innovative solutions and ideas have an opportunity to break that shroud and to give people hope. What a great purpose to be about . . . casting out fear!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Innovation Doesn't Need Technology

If you have been reading this blog you will notice that many posts about innovation talk about new technology breakthroughs. If someone where looking online to understand the definition of innovation they might get the idea that if it didn't have 1's and 0's then it could not meet the criteria.

But that just ain't so! Innovation leans towards technology because our world has been digitized at so many levels. So what does an innovation look like that has nothing to do with technology?

Hmmmmm . . .

Another powerful are of innovation is in the study of ideas. Philosophers, theologians and the like come up with ideas that truely change the way we understand the world. These ideas might have to do with our epistemologies, worldviews, theologies or other key areas of study. Over the next few months I will try and highlight some of these innovations that are not focused or driven by modernity and the progress of technology. We will see how it turns out

Sunday, December 02, 2007

YouTube, GodTube and the art of imitation

I didn't expect it but should have . . . soon after YouTube became very popular out came a Christian version At first no one noticed . . . but as online video distribution has shot through the roof, it is getting some press and attention from the Christian audience.

This Spring I was speaking to a group of journalists on innovation and a Christian journalists asked me why we at HCJB Global weren't using GodTube instead of YouTube. More recently I have had people who question some of the advertised content chastize me for putting things on YouTube.

So where does a site like GodTube fit in to the innovation picture. Along came YouTube and did something incredible - they made video available to the masses in a viral form. This was a true innovation that has impacted many areas of our modern world. Of course now there are many other people who are doing it. YouTube has many competitors including GodTube. But is GodTube innovative? For the most part it looks and feels just like YouTube only with a lower quality experience.

So what is GodTube? Simply put it is marketing. When you have a tool that does the job and someone creates another tool that looks very much like it, the main purpose usually is to focus on one audience in specific. This is not bad at all . . . it is niched marketing. But it is not innovation.

So as you look to create a strategic plan for your video as a ministry, church or personally, what do you put where. It all comes down to audience. If you are looking for a strong evangelical audience go to GodTube. If you are looking for a general audience go to YouTube.

BUT beware . . . usually the audience specific products cannot afford to provide as good of service because they do not have the sheer numbers. So lets say your audience is Christians, you may still engage more of them through YouTube because they are looking for that high quality experience.

Now lets look at the flip side. Because the content is much more controled, if you are looking to market video content to young families, GodTube may be a much better bet because parents will not want their children potentially exposed to some of the negative material on YouTube.

Never let someone convince you that one tool is always better than another. Each has its place. So enjoy the new era of online video - the potential to innovatively deliver your message to people around the world is huge . . . but please think about your audience as you go about your delivery.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Everyone else is writing about facebook so . . .

It only seems right if you are writing a blog on innovation to talk about facebook. It is an amazing tool that connects people in exciting new ways. But I want to focus on how we use it and what is truely innovative.

Sometimes people think that just by using the "cool new tools" they are being innovative. The issue with that is this - if you are simply using the features and tools designed by someone else the way they envisioned them being used, you are enjoying their innovation - not making your own.

But, you can be innovative with someone else's tool. You just have to come up with a new way to use it that solves a key problem/ministry need.

For instance, when we started using YouTube at HCJB Global, the first few videos were very much just getting a feel for the tool. We were enjoying their innovation and how it could help us to share what God is doing.

But then we decided to get more creative. Instead of only using YouTube as a channel for viewing, we made it into a virtual repository focused on feeding video to our missionaries' blogs. That was an innovation. All of a sudden, the purpose of the video was not so much that it was on YouTube as it was feeding dozens of other sites of people who had no way to get their hands on video content or to make it available to their donors/family/friends.

As you look into using facebook, myspace, YouTube and the like here are some good steps:
1. Set up an account and emerse yourself in the tool - figure it out.
2. Understand the community and the culture it has created.
3. Look at your goals and objectives in your ministry.
4. Try and use those tools in creative ways to meet those objectives.
5. Have fun with it - someone can really tell when you are doing it because you have to or because you don't want to be left behind.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Green Mom Challenge

Innovations can be very small things. They don't have to change the world - in fact the really good ones sometimes look very insignificant. But we have to realize that one small thing can begin a process that will change lives.

Mindy has just started a blog called The Green Mom Challenge. This is a great example. It's whole focus is on small things that mom's can do every day that will care for our planet. Who knows, maybe some innovations will sprout from those simple ideas!

Are you getting impact from the small innovations or are you lost in the big ideas?

Monday, November 12, 2007

How do you find innovation?

Everyone innovates differently. Each person is searching for answers and is defining solutions as they research and then prototype those ideas. Share how you innovate . . . scroll down and answer the poll on the left side of the page.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Innovation Requires Input

I am in Minneapolis this week conducting focus groups at a local university. Why are focus groups important?

Any time you try to innovate you need input. You need to understand what those you are trying to serve think. Innovation isn't just about someone going into a garage and coming out with an amazing new idea.

Innovation comes when you marry unique ideas with a laser focus on your audience.

How are you understanding those you serve today? Are you being proactive? Are you letting your audiences help you innovate?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Innovation from a Hospital Bed

So many times we try to be innovative sitting in our office chairs. We sit there . . . and we sit . . . and we sit some more. Somehow we are sure that if we sit long enough, talk fast enough, and think hard enough that the amazing ideas will flow.

Paul Bennett, a designer from Ideo, shares another perspective in this video. Here's how it goes - get out of your chair and get into the shoes of your audience. In this video he talks about design solutions for big problems. The thing that stood out to me and was so exciting was that they searched for solutions by becoming the recipient. So when asked to study the customer experience in a hospital, their staff layed in a hospital bed and videoed the ceiling!

What a concept. But innovation is proven when you get out of your chair and jump into the shoes of those who are in need of a solution. Watch the video and then think about how you can put yourself in the place of those who recieve your services or who give to your causes. How will that change how you communicate to them, connect with them, engage them?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Innovation on a Friday???

Fridays are tough. Its the end of the work week and we are all ready to move on to something else. Usually we have fought our battles, we have pushed through on deadines, we have made our presentations and we are ready for a rest.

But I think we are missing something. Friday is also a great INNOVATION DAY! Why is that? Well think about it. Friday is the culmination of a whole week's worth of lessons, ideas, failures, brainstroms, etc. It is the synthesis day when a new idea is very likely to come together.

In fact, because Friday is a bit more laid back there is even more of a chance it can be a condiut for innovation. Many people have casual dress on Fridays. Most people are feeling a bit more light hearted.

The tightly wound work world has taken a breath.

If you harness it, that moment can be a powerful force of innvation. At HCJB Global we have worked on this in our Communciations Team. On Fridays we do 2 things:
1. We hold our team meeting to review the week, brainstorm and plot out the next.
2. We have 2-3 hours of learning time every Friday Afternoon where everyone in the team is working on some sort of learning activity.

These two simple things are producing exciting results. We are coming up with new ideas and then are ready to use them as we jump into the next week.

So many people write off Friday's from a productivity standpoint, but if you position them right, they can be your main force for innovation!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Innovation Shrunk

In a recent Fast Company blog posting, they were talking about Walmart's announcement that they achieved their goal to sell 100 million energy-saving light bulbs. They did it with a bunch of fan fare - why? Very simple. Each bulb had a positive impact on the environment, and their ability to sell so many of them meant that they were creating real environmental impact.

You see, the small thing has huge impact on the larger ecosystem. That is the same in our organizations. By innovating in the smallest ways you can cause big change. Simply by changing the layout of the cubicles, redoing your office schedule, creating some innovative staff interactions, etc.

So don't be intimidated that innovation requires something as huge as the invention of the lightbulb - it can be as small as selling the environmentally friendly ones.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Innovation Insight

Recently I was at a conference where we did some team activities. One of the activities really shows impact of assumptions. The leader of the excercise gave four groups of four people a card with an assignment. All he said was, "Each of you represent an office and you must answer the question on your card." He also said that the team that finished fastest would get the largest bonus.

Each of the offices jumped into their task with excitement. But as each group looked at their cards, the question was not answerable - we didn't have all the information. But because we thought we were competing for bonuses, we did not even think to ask any other office.

Well, lesson learned, the answer to our question was on the card of another office and the same was true for each office. The lesson: any space at all (even only a few feet) creates seperation.

Innovation requires that we break down walls of seperation. This is hard because we put them up everywhere we go and we struggle to think about our world in collaboration. But that is the only way we can do innovative thinking in the nonprofit world. Because we lack resources of major corporations, we have to use the resources at our disposal - our networks, friendships, partners.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sin Spurred Innovation

"Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" - Mark 2:3-5 (NIV)

The people of Israel were amazed that something good could come out of Nazareth. The Disciples were amazed that the Holy Spirit came to the Gentiles. Today we are amazed when a Chinese pastor prays that we in the west will experience persecution.

Sin has some interesting side effects, doesn't it? We are all too familiar with the downward spiral of sin that traps people and claims their souls. But there are other side effects to sin as well.

In Mark 2, four men are confronted with the result of man's sinful nature - disease and sickness. Now I am not saying that this man sinned and was punished with sickness, but his sickness is itself a part of the fallen world.

As I was saying, these four men were confronted with this imperfection in their friend. They knew Jesus could do something but they could not reach him. They were too late. But then they got an idea. I can just imagine how this might go. One of them might have said, "There isn't anyone on the roof - lets go that way!" I'm sure one or two of them looked at him and laughed, but what the heck! So they put some of that first century math to work and figured out where Jesus was probably sitting. Maybe they cheated and looked into a window to get their bearing.

Either way, they got their friend to the Savior - they innovated in the face of sin's dramatic effect.

Sin can lead to innovation in our lives as well. As we come up against sin's evil results and ask "WHY?", we have a chance to look for a solution. We can look for another approach . . . another idea . . . another perspective that will break the power of sin and point back to Christ and His love.

One great example is Whoever spearheaded this service saw the aweful temptation of pornography on the internet. So they created this service called CoventantEyes that uses an innovative approach. The person who is concerned about the temptation of content online downloads a program and selects a few accountability partners. This program records every site the person goes to and sends it to the accountability partner. The email records which ones are considered concerning.

This is an amazing innovation in accountability in the Internet Age - a side effect of sin that is helping thousands.

When you come up to sin in your life, do you let it engulf you or do you innovate and apply God's strength and creativity to combatting it?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Innovation in Small Groups

I read an excerpt on about a new innovation in small groups that Mike Lueken (Oak Hills Church in Folsom, CA) is developing.

They are creating what they call "One Thing" groups. These groups focus on a specific area that a set of people want to tackle and engage. The idea is that if you are trying to fix everything you will never get to any of them - so why not have groups developed around specific challenges.

This is so simple but it is a great example of holistic innovation. It takes an existing idea and rolls it out for a new purpose - spiritual formation and accountability.

When I talk with people, they usually have decided that innovation is something big that only the brainiacs can do . . . this is a great example of the fact that innovation can be done by anyone.

Enjoy innovating today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Innovation is a Matter of Timing

We want to see innovation happen but then there was the issue of timing. It's a killer for a few reasons:
  1. If you have urgent problems that you are seeking solutions for, innovation does not have time to work. You need a solution long before the innovation process can hope to succeed.
  2. Innovation can take a long process, with the turnover in nonprofits today it is hard to keep an innovation champion in place long enough to see the results.
  3. Sometimes the alignment of money and resources for innovation do not come when you need them. This means that you are delayed in your innovation for lack of funds.

The biggest issue is that we tend to put off solving hard problems. They are too big and we have other matters that seem more urgent. If we deal with problems through innovation with the proper lead time, there is a chance for the innovation to provide a solution. If not the timing of it all will get us every time

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An Idea Deffered

In today's Fast Company Blog on Innovation they talk about how Corel, the software company, is helping people throughout the organization to share their ideas.

One of the most interesting things about this blog is the question "What is the cost of an idea deffered?" I think the cost is huge. Every time we say, "We don't have time to think it through." or "I don't know who to share this with." We are loosing out on an opportunity to share ideas, learn and innovate.

What is the cost of the deffering the idea you have in your head today?

Slipping through the cracks

Innovation is a very purposeful and intentional process. It involves research, soft thinking, hard thinking and follow-through. We are real good at talking in the nonprofit world, but follow-through is a bit tougher.

One of the great challenges is that our days slip away from us. They just disappear. We get wrapped up in all the daily activities of our children, our job responsibilities and our church and we don't leave time to innovate.

I think we sometimes just assume that the innovation will come to us in the shower and we will be instantly on the road to a solution.

I just did a podcast on the reality check of our disappearing day. Check it out.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Innovation through Suffering

Many times innovation comes out of suffering. We are presented with an insurmountable challenge and we look for solutions. Many times the challenges impact us very personally and it drives our creative juices. We are hit with a loss and we don't know what to do. So we take that frustration and sorrow and focus in "fixing it."

We are a culture that loves to fix things. We identify problems and throw all our energies towards the challenge. So many of the times the motivations for innovation are very personal. We are struggling with somethings in our heart and out of that pain comes innovation.

What are the things motivating your innovation today?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Your Chance to Review Innovation in Mission

As you read the Innovation in Mission book and interact with the concepts, we would love to have you review it. Here are a few places you can submit a review:

We will look forward to your thoughts!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Source for Innovation

One of the greatest sources for ideas on innovation comes from Fast Company Magazine. They also run a great BLOG on innovation. It is definitely worth bookmarking.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Brigada Promo

Check out what ran about our book in

EXAMPLES OF INNOVATION IN MISSION -- Are you looking for inspiration in your ministry? Jim Reapsome (retired editor of EMQ) and Jon Hirst (Director of Communications at HCJB Global) have just launched a book that showcases the innovations of thirteen mission practitioners. Whether you want to learn about how TEAM launched e-learning, how Olive Technologies integrates business as mission, and how Link Care and YWAM are re-imagining member care in the developing world, these quick case studies provide a great workshop to help you innovate within your ministry context. Read more about the book at and

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Innovation takes People

One of realities to the innovative success of Google, Mac, Pixar and others is a simple resource . . . people. Sometimes we are tempted to think that outsourcing our work or using a slimmed down staff can produce the same results.

But in the end, it is the creative dynamic and varied skills of a team that make innovation happen in the world today. It is different cultures, different cities, different personalities engaged in tackling the same problem.

In missions we don't use people resources very wisely. Many times if our staff raise their own support we fail to even count their time as a resource. That is a big mistake. Missions will not innovate until they start to look at their people resources strategically and invest in them wisely.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Drawing from Within

When you hear the word innovation you immediately think of new and creative things. That is natural - you wouldn't call an old idea "innovative." Or would you?

We are just getting over our facination with progress. It was the momentum that drove the 20th Century. But at the same time, it assumed that the "new" and the "next" were always better.

Now lets consider what is within us. I wonder if some of the most creative innovations are not ideas that already exist but are reimagined. Those ideas that have been ripening in us over time and then we pull it out of the back of our brain and apply it to a new challenge.

Many of the innovations in mission happening in the Global South seem to be things that the Apostle Paul did so effectively. When I was in a South Asian country recently, I spent some time with a ministry who is mobilizing hundreds of church planters and each one must get a business model approved. They are innovative because they have families to feed. But that's not new. The early church did plent of that.

Another example in the world of mission is online learning. Just like Paul's letters represented an informal style of learning, we are now using new communications tools to help teach missionary staff and hone their skills.

I wonder if a key characteristic of a mission innovator is to unite new opportunities with the wellspring of history and create relevant solutions. I think that it isn't so much about having something truely new as it is about having something truely engaging.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Review on

If you would like to see a missions mobilizer's take on the Innovation in Mission book click here.

It has some great pull out quotes from the book and gives you an overview. In one of his comments David says that it is a bit too in depth for the casual reader and a bit too general for the practitioner. Point taken, but consider that most people involved in missions today sit somewhere between the casual bystander and the expert. That is the person that will get the most out of this new resource.

Thanks for the review David and hope everyone enjoys his comments.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Review by EMQ

In the latest issue of EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly) John Orme reviewed the Innovation in Mission book. Make sure to check it out! EMQ's web site is

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Business as Mission Highlighted

One of the chapters in our book was recently published as an article in Momentum Magazine. Joseph Vijayam's chapter on Kingdom Business can be viewed here.

Joseph does a great job in this chapter of helping create a healthy model of using business in conjunction with missions. He speaks often on this topic and runs a very successful business in Hyderbad, India. Check out what Joseph is doing at

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A question to consider

What if you didn't live in a hyper-aggressive world focused on the next best thing? What if you didn't spend every second of every day fighting off the constant attack of messages and changes?

If that wasn't your life, then think about how you might answer this question:

"What would be innovative to you without any context or understanding of the word innovation?"

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Defining Innovation

One of the biggest challenges in a world where innovation is used to describe almost everything, is to get beyond the clutter to a clear understanding of the word. One of the key publications talking about innovation is Fast Company and in one of their blogs they are talking about just this topic.

The concept is that innovation must lead to something "good" - that is defined loosely :). The concept is that if it is not good for the environment, if it doesn't inspire and move forward society, then it really isn't innovation, even if it is. Did you get that???

So can we moralize innovation or is it just what it is?

Check out the post and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Podcasting Prayer

A new innovation in sharing prayer time just launched in April. One Way Ministries launched a "prayercast." It is a mix of music and prayer that you can subscribe to and join in times of prayer.

Definitely a innovative application of the podcasting concept.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Christian Publishing Reaches Beyond Itself

Christians can get too comfortable communicating only with other Christians. We see this in the Christian publishing world, where books often target only Christians--even in places where the vast majority of readers are far removed from the church.

So, I'm excited about the upcoming Europe Publishing Forum, because the theme will be "Publishing for the General Market." This is the first time our training ministry has devoted an entire conference to this focus.

Some 50 Christian book and magazine publishers from East and Central workshop will gather April 25 to 29 in Austria to explore ways to get books with a Christian message into the general marketplace (

We'd appreciate prayer that God will use this conference to equip and energize European Christian publishers to communicate Christian truth in compelling, winsome ways that "connect" with the unchurched reader.

John Maust - CEO of MAI and Innovation in Mission author
Chapter 5 - "Innovation in Training Writers and Publishers"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Church Marketing 101

In the Innovation in Mission book, we have a chapter dedicated to how churches and missions relate. Ellen Livingood - Catalyst Services - did a great job sharing how some new churches are looking at this dynamic.

One of the realities of innovation between churches and missions goes back to how the church views marketing and connecting with their community. In fact, I would say that if you understand a church's marketing strategy, you will understand their approach to missions even better.

Why is that????

Simple, if marketing is a dynamic part of a church, then they will be designing their missional focus around the felt needs and passions of the community. If marketing isn't even on the horizon, then they may be doing the same things they were doing years ago but without much interaction or buyin from their community.

So if marketing really drives how churches look at missions, then lets understand church marketing. And there is no better innovator in this area than Richard Reising. He has just come out with a new book - Church Marketing 101. Check it out and think critically about how it changes your missions relationship with your churches.

Courage + Obedience = Peace

As we take a serious look at innovation, we can't help but look long and hard at the courage of those who have followed Christ throughout the centuries. COURAGE is a big word that few of us live up to. In fact, we do more than not live up to it - we run from it. Courage is hard, it looks foolish and it looks very dangerous.

I have been studying one individual who is an excellent example of courage - Caleb. And as I have studied, I have found out that courage is just the beginning. Courage is not the end result but the launching pad to something much greater.

Take Caleb
Caleb showed great courage when he stood up to all of Israel and to the 10 spies who said that they should not go into the promised land. That courage was the glue that held him together as he wandered the desert with the other Israelites suffering for a crime he did not committ.

But here is the incredible thing - when he finally got into the promised land, he drew from that courage to do the thing that God had originally asked of him - to take Hebron and the giants that ruled that rich and fruitful place. His courage was what helped him to rely on God and be obedient.

So what is the result of this courage that leads to obedience? It is peace. Most people don't read on in Joshua, but in Chapter 20, God lays out a new concept - Cities of Refuge. These are places that you could go if you were framed or if you accidentally killed someone. These cities were places of justice and protection so that the tribal revenge killings would not spiral out of control. And guess which city was a City of Refuge. You guessed it - Hebron.

Caleb showed courage in the face of giants, followed up his courage with obedience to God's call to take Hebron and he was rewarded by the people of God who made his city a place of safety and justice.

Innovation Application
When we are striving to be innovative in our ministry settings, courage will always be required. Many times we see courageous innovators. The problem is many times that innovation is not followed by obedience - and so it dies.

Only when we courageously innovate and obediently serve will we find peace and rest in new ideas and new strategies that create significant Kingdom Impact.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A New Endorsement

We’ve all encountered people who are “ahead of their time.” They challenge us, inspire us, and often create consternation. The work of mission has, over the course of two millennia, adapted, innovated, and at certain times and places merely survived. It is clear that missions as we have known it, will be known in a different light in the days to come. Innovation in Mission is a rich thread in the fabric of change/innovation that will assist the reader to be “ahead of their time.”

David J Jahnke, Regional Director, Asia, BGC International Ministries

If you want to read other endorsements for Innovation in Mission click here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Innovation in Content Sharing

One of the chapters in the Innovation in Mission book is written by Aaron Sandoval - then Communications Director for CAM International. He focused his innovation chapter on a project that he helped launch called This was a site to resource hispanic pastors with materials.

This concept of democratizing information in order to build networks, competencies and to move knowledge forward is huge.

I just saw another example of Aaron's innovation from MIT. They have recently opened up all of their courses to the public for free! That is right. You can view the outlines, book lists, class notes and much more on any course. Imagine how that democratizes knowledge.

Check it out at:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Persistent Innovator

One of the realities of innovation is that it takes time . . .

It takes time because we live busy lives. It takes time because unlike the inventors of 100 years ago who locked themselves in closets and came out with a prototype, we are working 60-80 hours and still trying to be innovative.

The key to innovation in our day is persistence. We cannot hope to have the time and focus of Edison or Einstein. Especially because we are talking about holistic innovation here. We are not only out there thinking grand thoughts but we are in the field working as well.

But if we take time and make many little steps, we can still see innovation happen. As we chip away at a problem - try this and try that - we will begin to see the bigger picture. It is then that the major innovation might just break through.


Monday, February 19, 2007

What is Kingdom Impact?

In the subtitle of our book we talk about "Insights into Practical Innovations Creating Kingdom Impact," so the question is very relevant. What is it?

The parables of Jesus come to mind as we consider this question. Both the parable of the sower and the parable of the talents talk about resources that were at a person's disposal. Some of the resources were used wisely and had great benefit and others were not used wisely and were waisted.

Kingdom Impact is really about the marrying of resources with God-sized results. This means that Kingdom Impact is not something that people can do - it is something that God must do. But God chose to work through us in this world so we have an opportunity to share in that impact.

The question that I consider quite often in the ministry world is this, "How much of our ministry efforts are creating Earthly Impact vs. Kingdom Impact. Every time we roll out an initiative, plant a church, use a new technology, we should be asking this question. Is it being done in our power at our suggestion or is God breathing life into this effort?

Innovation within a Kingdom context is a tricky thing because innovation is all about proactive creativity. It is very easy in that environment to do things that we want to do instead of listening to God and doing things that He wants done.

As innovators we must seek to be intentional about our time with God so that we can discern which of the "cool" ideas we are processing really have "Kingdom Potential."

Innovation in Mission Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECompany Contact: Dana CarringtonCompany Name: Authentic
Address: 285 Lynnwood Ave
Tyrone, GA 30290
Phone: 1-678-327-3486

Authentic launches Innovation in Mission

February 7, 2007 – STL/Authentic is pleased to announce a timely and relevant title that will change the way the church embraces new ideas and practices in missions.

In Innovation in Mission: Insights into Practical Innovations Creating Kingdom Impact, Jim Reapsome and Jon Hirst bring together creative national and international mission practitioners to describe new practices in their specialties. Roger Peterson, CEO of STEM Intl, addresses the new ideas surrounding short-term missions and shares case studies from churches, sending agencies, and a radio station. Joseph Vijayam, founder and president of Olive Technology, delves into the realm of tentmaking while Kurt Wilson, president of Compass Outreach Media, concentrates on what he calls “media missionaries.” The innovations they present are real and are influencing the method of missions today.

Scott Moreau, editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly, said, “Innovation in Mission excites me like no other missions book I’ve ever read; I came away energized and full of new ideas and possibilities.” Greg Yoder, executive director and anchor for Mission Network News, said this book “force[s] reader[s] to think outside the box and become innovators themselves in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.”

Authentic has long been known for its continuing contribution to the subject of missions. For more information about this resource as well as others, please visit For more information about the book, please visit

Established in 1962 as the literature distribution division of Operation Mobilization, STL is a not for profit corporation whose mission statement is to “Advance the Christian Faith”. STL UK is the largest provider of Christian product in Great Britain and Europe while STL, Inc. serves the US Christian publishing and retailing community with excellence through its seven distinct divisions:
· STL/Publisher Services offers a full line of distribution services to clients in the US, UK, and Europe.
· STL/FaithWorks provides sales, marketing, warehousing, and fulfillment services to small and mid-sized Christian publishers.
· STL/Appalachian Distributors is one of the two largest wholesalers of Christian product in the US and provides industry leading customer service, fill rates, and delivery speed.
· STL/Homeschool Headquarters provides retailers with quality educational resources as well as professional marketing assistance.
· STL/Authentic publishes resources to engage the global community in relevant issues of mission, evangelism, discipleship, and biblical studies while STL/Paternoster continues its 70-year tradition of publishing books for the thoughtful Christian reader. STL/ Authentic is also the publisher for World Vision.
· STL/Great Value Books is the overstock and remainder division of STL US and offers high discount products to North American markets.
· STL/International provides affordable books and Bibles to overseas markets.
STL’s goal is to provide the highest quality products and services to the Christian publishing and retailing community.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007


One of the keys to innovation is beginning to build a network around a new idea. The seeds of innovation can be developed individually, but it is in community that they thrive.

So many times we have this view of the inventor back in the garage who comes out with this incredible new concept. Sure that does happen, but it is much more likely that a person will come up with an idea and then shop it around to their peers.

As this interaction happens, the idea is tested, debated, improved and modified. Out of this process a successful prototype can emerge that is well rounded and grounded in reality.

So lets get practical. I work with HCJB Global and we are beginning to test the use of as a tool to share what God is doing in missions. I am not alone - Jews for Jesus, SIM, World Venture and a few others are also doing this.

So I am forming a YouTube Group called MissionalTube in order to share and discuss how this new social network can be harnessed to share about missions.

Do you want to join - send me a note at our site

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Realism in Innovation

One of the big reasons for writing this book was to be very realistic about the kind of innovation that is possible within a mission organization. Sure, we can brag about global operations, but we aren't Pfizer or IBM.

We can count on one hand the number of people dedicated to research and planning. That is our world.

So what kind of innovation is possible? In my first chapter I talk about that as Holistic Innovation - taking the theoretical and the pragmatic and pulling it together.

They key challenge as you read Innovation in Mission is to think about who are the wholistic innovators in your organization? Who are those that are daily asking the right questions, testing ideas and then presenting new plans?

One of the tragedies within our organizations is that we regularly do not value or encourage those people. They do not get the opportunities to show their ideas to leadership or develop their creative thoughts into reality.

So what can mission organizations do to innovate - realistically?

Lets start by identifying the holistic innovators in our organizations and empowering them. It will go a long way.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Am I Right????

Another Mindset that John Naisbitt talks about is the following:

"4. Understanding how powerful it is not to have to be right: Having to be right shackles your mind.”

Think about this with me for a minute. Have there been times when you were so invested in a solution and so convinced that you had it figured out that you rejected truth?

It happens more than we would like to believe. It is key to come to terms with being wrong. If I want to be innovative, I have to develop a culture around me that allows people to be wrong without being rejected. Once that culture is in place, we can do what I call "soft thinking." That is when we are taking and brainstorming but we realize that we still do not have the full picture.

So have fun being wrong and watch as the right solutions begin to emerge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Adding and Subtracting

Over the next few weeks I want to highlight several of John Naisbitt's mindsets that I listed several days ago.

10. Don’t add unless you subtract: Never throw more balls than you can juggle.

Number 10 is so critical. It is a very hard one for innovators for a simple reason. Innovators tend to be overly optimistic dreamers that are reaching beyond the limits that others set. That great blessing of optimism also tends to mean that innovators don't know how to say no.

Mindset 10 is all about priorities. If we are to be holistic innovators like we talk about in Innovation in Mission, we must be able to manage those things we are focused on. Naisbitt says that if we discipline ourselves to only take on so many things, then when we want to add a new one to the list, we have to evaluate which of the current ones we will drop.

This discipline of adding and subtracting allows us to focus on what is really important and to use that entreprenureal spirit to follow through on key innovations.

How many things are you juggling today?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Prayer for Vision

In this video I share a prayer that we have printed in the Innovation in Mission book. It is a prayer by Sir Francis Drake - yes the pirate - who was the son of a preacher.

This prayer has really impacted me because it challenges me to consider God's greater plan and how I can be a part of that. It forces me to look beyond my reality and hope in the future.

That is one of the keys to innovation - hope.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mindsets for Innovation

I just read John Naisbitt's new book called "Mindsets." It is an excellent recource and a very quick read. The greatest thing about the book is that it helps us to change our mindset as we sit down to consider innovation within the mission context.

Our biggest problem many times is that we approach problems from a mindset that almost guarantees failure. The ability to change our mindset is key to innovation. Check out the 11 mindsets that John talks about in this new book.

11 Mindsets Crucial to Innovation
By John Naisbitt

1. While many things change, most things remain constant: The DNA of change spirals around the pillars of consistency.

2. The future is embedded in the present: In the stream of time the future is always with us.

3. Focus on the score of the game: The score of the game cannot be bribed

4. Understanding how powerful it is not to have to be right: Having to be right shackles your mind.”

5. See the future as a picture puzzle: Mix and match until you see the new picture.

6. Don’t get so far ahead of the parade that people don’t know you are in it: The sender has to stay in range of the receiver.

7. Resistance to change falls if benefits are real: You don’t bend down unless something is worth picking up.

8. Things that we expect to happen always happen more slowly: Expectations always travel at higher speeds.

9. You don’t get results by solving problems but by exploiting opportunities: Change is the father of innovation.

10. Don’t add unless you subtract: Never throw more balls than you can juggle.

11. Don’t forget the ecology of technology: Technology is the great enabler, but not in a vacuum.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is Innovation REALLY?

This word "innovation" is used all the time, but what does it really mean. In our new book Innovation in Mission, we talk about that in a very practical way. We bring it to life by showing you mission innovators at work.

Innovation has three key elements that you will find over and over as you read the book:
1. There is thought, ideas, theory, concepts that are considered and discussed. These challenges are the imputus for the innovation.

2. There is a solution that solves a very practical problem. This is the reaction to the theory.

3. There is action. This is the roll-out of the theory through the solution and into practical application.

In missions we are better at theory and etherial solutions then we are at action. There is alot we can learn from these innovators who put their ideas into action.

Hear what people are saying!

Our book is off the printer and will be released next week. Innovation in Mission is going to be a great resource for people looking for practical examples of innovation within the mission community. We shared the book with several people and here are some of their endorsements:

"Innovation in Mission excites me like no other missions book I've ever read; I came away energized and full of new ideas and possibilities. This is a must-read for mission leaders, strategic planners, and future cross-cultural kingdom workers. But let the reader beware: Innovation in Mission will challenge you to make significant changes in what you do and how you do it!" - Scott Moreau, Editor, EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly)

"Innovation in Mission addresses some of the most important strategic issues we face [in our rapidly changing world]. Because the global missionary movement needs to take stock of their practices, this book is important. Editors Reapsome and Hirst selected the contributors and the topics well. The chapters provide important insights for conversations that should be on the agenda of churches and missions alike. This is a book to share with others on your Boards, in your Sunday School classes, and in the missions you support."
Doug McConnell, Dean and Associate Professor of Leadership, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This is a timely book with an astonishingly wide range of current missions practices and concepts. It also has many helpful examples that can be used by missions pastors, agency leaders and missionaries. A must read for every missiologist and missions practitioner."
Jim Tebbe, Urbana Director

"As I looked through these pages, I felt this is a book that I need to read myself. After 50 years in missions I still have much to learn." - George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization

"The world is changing rapidly and this requires the church to examine the old ways and explore new ways of functioning to ensure we are relating effectively to a challenging situation. This book will help." - Stuart Briscoe, pastor and author