Monday, August 25, 2008

Taking Strategic Risks for God's Kingdom

How tolerant of risk are you? Everyone has a different tolerance and this is key to your success in innovation. Innovators learn to tolerate risk if they believe the reward is great enough. Think about some of the great missions innovators and how risky their lives seem today.

The thing that helps us take risk is the great reward that we strive for. We are working for something much larger than money or fame. Our innovations are designed to have eternal impact for God's Kingdom. Within that context, God challenges us to take greater risk and to trust in Him.

I would like to introduce you to an innovator and risk taker in our facebook group - Dawn Herzog Jewell. Dawn works for MAI and has just written a book called Escaping the Devil's Bedroom. This book is a daring look at the realities of the sex trade world wide and what Christians are doing to reach out to people caught in this reality.

Dawn doesn't have any experience in this area, but she felt that God wanted her to write about something that wasn't getting much ink - and through prayer - God led her to this topic. As a new author, imagine the intimidation of tackling a topic like this? Would you have done it?

But Dawn found a prayer partner to walk alongside her and she began tackling the subject. After much travel, research and interaction with those who work in this area of ministry - the book is finally out.

As I read the first chapter, what I found so amazing is that Dawn helped me to see those people caught in the sex trade as individuals in desperate need of love. It was so easy before for me to see them as objects, but Dawn introduces me to people who were broken and have now been made whole in Christ.
One of the innovative elements is how Dawn carries the theme of lost and found people throughout the book. So many books focus on the sin and forget the person. Dawn turned that equation around and made it about those people who are caught in the middle of their sin and their circumstances. Even when the people in the book are hard to love, Dawn challenges the reader to see them as Jesus does.

Dawn has tackled a subject that few would cover. She has dealt with the topic in a straightforward way that shows the sin but then focuses on the solution. In all that she had friends and co-workers praying for her and her work.

I believe that Dawn's risk is going to pay off in exciting ways as people around the world get to know what ministry is going on to free people from the sex trade and how they can get involved.

What risks is God asking you to take today? Will you be courageous enough to engage in God's agenda?

Make sure to visit the blog:

Also, make sure to join the facebook group for the book:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Innovation in those Anonymous Times

When the word innovation pops into our minds, one of the ideas that usually surfaces is that of "fame." You know what I mean. Those who innovate get articles written about them, they get buildings named after them and a parade of biographers write their story.

But did you know that this is really a very rare occurance for the innovator? The normal reality is one of anonymity. When God births an idea in your head and begins to work in your heart to develop it, usually it is not done in front of an audience. It is done in a quiet place - an out of the way place.

In fact the good ideas usually take a long time to "cook" as our friend Dr. Hiebert used to say. That cooking is tedious, frustrating and lonely. But there are no shortcuts to it. There are no other avenues to pursue. To innovate you must accept the times of anonymity.

A resource to help you in this process is this week's Innovation Book of the Week - Anonymous.

Check out my review and I hope it is a help and a blessing.

If you have any thoughts on what you have done in those anonymous times, take a minute to share them for all of our readers. That would be a great encouragement.

Innovation Book of the Week - August 18-22

Being Anonymous
So many times when you are an innovator you go through those times of your life when you are invisible. You are working hard at your idea but no obvious grand ceremony is in sight. What do you do?
"Anonymous" is written by Alicia Chole and it is about the hidden years of Jesus and what we as Christians can learn from those years. This idea was deeply impacting to me because I have had those times. Times where I ask, "Where is God?" "Is my cause worth it?" "Is God closing a door or opening one?"
Those are normal questions. Don't be afraid of the anonymous times. What this book will teach you is how to use those times so that when you burst out into the spotlight you are ready. You are deep in your faith, full of wisdom that can only come from suffering and ready to serve humbly.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Innovations in Visual Understanding

For much of the past century, our missions efforts have been centered around the concept that literacy is key to a culture's ability to embrace the Gospel. This has been a reality for our Wycliffe friends who teach literacy as they translate so that the people can read the Bible in their own language. This great movement had incredible results. In many ways the global economy that we now enjoy is partially due to the efforts of missionaries.

So we have this wonderful heritage of literacy with missions work. But many in recent years have been asking a question, "Is literacy required to gain an understanding of spiritual things?" This was an innovative question to ask for sure. The result of asking that question was the Orality Movement. The basic idea is that if we have the right techniques and tools, we can communicate to pre-literate and illiterate peoples in a way that will help them understand the Gospel and grow in their faith.

Now that is the concept of Orality, but I would like to present a further innovation in visual communication. A member of our facebook group - Clyde Taber (a former staff member with the Jesus Film Project) - is helping to coordinate a new group called the Visual Story Network. This idea takes the basic concept of tools for oral learners and then looks at a specific subset of those tools - visual ones.

This is a critical area of work because pre-literate, illiterate and post-literate people all respond to visual stories. But in the missions movement, we have been slow to identify and use visual tools because we have been so text heavy. Don't read that as a criticism, it is just a reality of how missions tools developed.

So the big innovation question is this, "How can visual stories transform how we communicate the Gospel?" Whether you are trying to reach people who have never read one word or those who have given up reading in a highly visual generation, this is an important question.

If you are interested in exploring this network of innovators, check out their site. Even better, go to the Visual Story Network Forum that is being held alongside the International Orality Network Conference in Dallas September 16-18.

The goals of the event are to:

1. Gather and engage visual story “innovators and early adaptors” around the vision of a global movement
2. Develop strategy groups focused on Training and Equipping, North America and Global Opportunities. Each strategy group will focus on two achievable objectives (6-9 month time frame).
3. Provide training in the development and use of visual story for kingdom impact
4. Develop relationships with the leaders in the International Orality Network. While their focus is on the use of oral story formats, we believe there are lessons to be shared between the two communities.
5. Provide networking opportunities
6. Present current models of effective visual story

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Book of the Week - August 4-8


This quick read is an excellent resource for innovators. John Naisbitt very quickly goes through 11 mindsets that we need to consider if we are to see the world differently. These have been very helpful to me as I have strived to tackle big problems.

But he goes beyond describing these 11 mindsets. In the second part of the book he really focuses in on case studies from the real world and how these mindsets play out.

If you haven't read it yet, pick it up. A quick scan will be very beneficial

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Innovation Rejection

What happens when your innovation is rejected? If you are an active innovator, then this has happened many times. Rejection in the innovation business is like bike accidents for an avid biker. You know you when you sign up that you will end up with bumps and bruises.

There are two key components to handling Innovation Rejection:

1. Your Attitude: As an innovator, you need to hold your ideas and excitement lightly. You never know what will catch on, what will work, what will make sense. If you personally invest so heavily in an idea that you can't discard it when it doesn't work, you will not see your innovations succeed.

2. Your Identity: As an innovator, your identity needs to be in Christ and not in your ideas. If you get your value and worth from your ability to come up with new ideas, you will find yourself defensive, frustrated and hopeless. If you get your identity from your ability to innovate, then your very worth as a person will come from your success. So when you fail you will feel worthless.

The innovator that can hold ideas lightly and anchor their identity in Christ will find a creative freedom that is hard to contain. God is ready to let you loose on the world. Failure will be a part of that reality, but in God's strength you will learn from each rejection and go on.

An successfull innovator is not someone who doesn't fail, they are someone who reaches beyond their failures to learn key leasons that will lead to the next great endeavor.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Made it to 300!

Friends, we reached our goal of growing the Facebook Innovation in Mission group to 300. Thanks for all of you who joined. Stay tuned.