Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today was a good day

Today was a good day. You know those days when the ideas flow, you get resolution and you feel like all that hard work is paying off.

Today was a good day. It was one of those moments when the idea I have been struggling with for weeks became clear. For no apparent reason, today it was like looking at a vivid picture with every detail.

Today was a good day. That ongoing discussion I have been having got resolved. I didn't even expect it to happen, but with one short meeting things fell into place.

Today was a good day. Those hours of detail work finally came to a close and I was able to move on to a new stage.

But I ask myself the question, "Why was today a good day?"

It was a good day because yesterday wasn't.

Yesterday my ideas were stuck in a hole so deep I couldn't even see them. I tried to dig for inspiration, but all I got were words and ideas flying around in my head.

Yesterday was full of conflict. People not agreeing, confusion, and miscommunication ruled the day.

Yesterday was the detail work that never seemed to end. It was all those little things that don't seem to matter but they do when you add them up.

Yesterday was not a good day.

But because I kept working yesterday, I arrived at today. Thank you God for the strength to survive the yesterdays and I pray for the humility to take advantge of today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Innovation Highlight - A Media Combo

I have the privilege of introducing another innovator to you this week. He is working with Campus Crusade’s Family Life ministry in Australia. His name is Eric Skattebo.

Eric responded to the blog entry I wrote about Innovation Combos (the idea that we could create new innovations by combining various traditional ministries in new ways). Eric is working on a very promising media ministry combo that I think you will enjoy reading about. Take a moment to read what he sent in and feel free to connect with him through our facebook group.

How can a radio program, website and online follow-up ministry work together to form one cohesive evangelism strategy? Well, let’s start at the end and work backwards.

TruthMedia is an example of a follow-up ministry that connects people who are seeking spiritual truth with Christian mentors who correspond with them. The ultimate aim is for them to lead non-Christians to the Lord and disciple new believers. This ministry is having wonderful success – leading 2,000 to 3,000 people to the Lord each month (or to rededicate their lives).

But how do you get religious seekers to contact you in the first place? One way is to design “seeker sensitive” websites that can be found easily when “seekers” do web searches (on Google or Yahoo etc.). These websites provide information along the lines of “What is the purpose of life?,” “Does God exist?” or “What is truth?” etc.. “Seekers” come to these sites and are given opportunities to contact the site and be assigned a mentor.Another way is to design a website using the “Bridge Strategy.” Basically, this means that you select a topic that is of interest to non-Christians (like sports, movies or hobbies etc.) and you design a website around this topic. The topic becomes a “bridge” to spiritual content.On all of these websites, visitors are given opportunities to contact the website (i.e. “For Prayer, Click Here” or “Questions About God, Click Here” etc.).

But how do people find your website besides finding it through a search or stumbling upon it? The answer is by making it known to as many people as possible (i.e. advertising or publicity). This can be done in a variety of ways: TV commercials, billboards, posters, T-shirts etc.One way of making a connection with people is by establishing a relationship with them through a radio program. Radio is unique in that it can provide companionship and have the listeners feel as if they “know” the hosts and guests. This “personal” medium, if done right, can earn the right to be heard on spiritual issues.Once again, a “Bridge Strategy” can be used to attract non-Christians and “bring them over” to spiritual content. Examples of “Bridges” being used are: teaching English as a second language, advice on family issues or finance and news/cultural insights.

This can all be brought together by having a radio program that is designed to attract non-Christians (with topics like: family advice, movies, culture, cultural insights, human-interest stories, current events etc). This type of program would “bring listeners over” to spiritual topics (i.e. the “Bridge Strategy”).Listeners would be given ample opportunities to contact the program directly or go to its corresponding website. Once at the website, listeners would be able to find out more information on the topics covered and also spiritual information. The website would also provide opportunities to ask questions or make comments and interact with the program/website.Whether the listener contacts the program directly or goes to the website, they would be put into the follow-up program and contacted by a trained mentor. Thus, providing personalized contact. The Lord willing, this will result in a discipling relationship and another member of the Kingdom of God.The goal would be to have this program played on as many radio stations as possible and, thereby, expose the maximum amount of people to the spiritual content of the program, website and mentoring emails.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is Innovation Inspired?

As we have been having innovation discussions with people around the country and around the world, one question keeps popping up and I think it is pretty important to think about it.

Here it is, "Is innovation mandated by God?" I think that the question has been asked for good reasons. Our society has put innovation on a pedestal and so many people who are looking at their ministry wonder whether God cares if we are innovative.

Innovation is a product of progress. As modernity took off on the wings of scientific discovery, innovation was heralded as the spark that made the whole enterprise possible. So we began to view innovators as a special group. We also began to put our hope and trust in them to solve some of the greatest problems that our generations faced. This is the context for innovation.

Now lets look at the Bible. What does God care about in relation to innovation?

God values effort: "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powefully works in me." Colossians 1:29

God values sacrifice: "Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more ito the treasury than all the others.'" Mark 12:43

God values perserverance: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

God values faith: "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." Hebrews 11:39-40

In the end innovation is a result - not a command. The more I see innovation within ministry, I see it being the result of people who are striving for Christ, perservering for the sake of the Gospel, sacrificing much and above all believing in the God of the universe and his plan for this world.

So don't look at your ministry and get discouraged if you don't see innovation. Instead, ask God to strengthen your heart, your determination, your understanding of His ways. Out of that will come innovation!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

World's Most Innovative Companies

As we search for the innovations that will drive this century of mission work, we have to look everywhere. The next great missional idea might come from the most unlikely place - a business, a government program, a friend, a small group discussion.

So in the spirit of looking deep, you need to check out FastCompany's Fast 50. This is their list of the 50 most innovative companies. Just reading this list will give you many new ideas.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Combo Meal Innovation

Many times people get the idea that innovation has to be a brand new idea that never existed before. We build up the innovator and imagine that without years tinkering in that garage, we could never create innovation in our work. That idea has kept many from understanding the true nature of innovation.

Holistic innovation is all about creative solutions to real problems. Sure it involves research and testing, but it can be quickly applied and lessons can be learned.

Another way to be creative as you innovate is to combine things. Sometimes a challenge in front of you doesn't need one brand new thing as much as it needs a few old things combined in a new way - an Innovation Combo Meal.

Let me give you an example from the organization I work with - HCJB Global. For many years HCJB Global had two key ministries - global radio and local healthcare. These ministries have done some exciting things and blessed thousands of people. However, for the majority of the last 75 years, these ministries operated seperately.

Recently, we have redefined our vision around an innovation. HCJB Global is combining media and healthcare in places like Africa to create more impact. This combo was a direct response to a challenge on the ground. As our partners started radio stations around the world with our help, they began to be the center of their community. Their role in information sharing, made them very influential. That influence brought the needy. People came from everywhere and many needed physical help. So our partners began to integrate healthcare services into their media work.

So as our partners began to innovate in this area, we also joined the effort. By integrating media and healthcare strategically, we are now finding many new ministry opportunities that we would have never had before.

Back to your work and ministry. As you look for ways to innovate in your context, think about some of the work you are involved in and how it might be combined to create new solutions and answers to new challenges!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What Innovators Love

On Valentines Day it only seems appropriate to write about love . . . however on an innovation blog it seems a bit out of place. So here are some things that innovators love:
  • Innovators love change because it is a sign that they are having an impact.
  • Innovators love people because through new relationships they expand their ability to find creative solutions.
  • Innovators love dreams because every innovation starts with a dream.
  • Innovators love risk (some more than others) because only when they take a big risk do they see the big rewards.
  • Innovators love managers because it means there is someone to hand off their new gadget/gizmo/idea/process to.

What are some other things innovators love?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Using and Innovating

One of the misconceptions that I see out there about innovation is related to using innovation vs. creating it. Many people will take a new innovative tool, use it and claim that they have innovated. What they have done is very good and admirable, but it is not innovation.

For instance, our Communications team at HCJB Global was one of the early ministries to really embrace YouTube to share videos. That was a good move, but not an innovation. That was using someone else's innovation.

The key to innovation is that you have to take a challenge/opportunity and apply a creative solution. It gets messy because it can look many different ways.

Let me give you another example. While our early use of YouTube was not innovative, we soon realized that the true power of YouTube for a mission agency was not in showing videos from our YouTube Channel as much as it was creating a video repository for our many missionaries/staff to use.

Once we changed our strategy and began to feed video to dozens of blogs, web sites and email campaigns, our use of YouTube became innovative. We had a challenge: How do we help missionaries and departments share what is going on visually? We developed a new solution: Turn our YouTube videos into a repository designed to help missionaries and departments repurpose it for their own audiences.

So as you understand what true innovation is, take the opportunity to stretch your mind and use existing tools to create new solutions for the ministry challenges in front of you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Innovation Highlight - A Missional Company

As a way of encouraging you and also sharing what God is doing, I want to take every opportunity to share innovations out there that will benefit missions. I met an innovator recently through our facebook group (take a minute to join if you haven't already).

JC became passionate about connecting with unreached people groups and sharing the Gospel. But the big question was, "How could he engage these people when many of them lived in restricted places?"

Like a good innovator, JC started where he was. He looked around and saw his parent's fiber processing business as a potential open door to some creative access countries. So then he began to dig deeper and see if fiber processing had potential in other parts of the world.

"I decided that for me and my family a great commission company was the best way to create that kind of a "portal vehicle". So I partnered with my parent's fiber processing business and have been training myself in how to be an "incarnational manager" . . . In the meantime, I have discovered that fiber processing is an "old world" concept that has been around for centuries and in and of itself is a great portal concept. It's a way to get into the heart of a culture if you're good at providing the resources they need for their craft or skill. It's been great developing this model here in the states and seeing how it works amongst my own people group."

Good innovators identify a problem, look around them at what resources they have available and then apply those resources to the problem. JC has found a creative way of doing this that could have significant impact for the Kingdom.

The next challenge for any innovator is to prototype the idea. Pray for JC as he is working towards launching fiber processing plants in areas where traditional missions is not an option.

Connect with JC and share your ideas on the "Innovation in Mission" facebook group or visit his websites:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Courage to Ask the Question

So many times when we think about the challenges of innovation and creative thinking, we get focused on the brain power that is necessary or the creativity that will be required.

But what about the courage just to ask the question. Some of the questions that you have to ask if you are to innovate are scarry. They are revolutionary . . . silly . . . ridiculous . . . outlandish even. But that is how innovation happens - when you are brave enough to ask the questions no one else will ask.

In the Innovation in Mission book, Sam Chaing of TWR dared to ask the question, "How do we get Bible software to Chinese pastors?" When he first asked that question, it sounded impossible, but the asking was what opened the door to the innovative solution.

So what questions do you need to be asking today???

Monday, February 04, 2008

Innovation is a Discussion

We just launched a facebook group about the book Innovation in Mission and it has reminded me of one important lesson. Innovation is understood and celebrated through discussion. As I talk with the people signing up on the group, I am finding that they have so many great ideas and creative solutions.

It is exciting to see how God is using people to innovate. The other side to the discussion is the discouragement. Many times people get stuck in a rut or have a challenge so big they can't get their hands around it. These situations need discussions as well.

I think one of the most vital elements of innovation has to be the discussions where we share our ideas and our challenges and get others involved in helping us to find solutions.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Looking for Missions Podcasts?

If you are looking for some people who are using podcasting actively in missions, check out some of the links below:

- (Mission Network News)
- (Words of Hope)
- (Ron Hutchcraft Ministries)
- (podcast for Urbana 06)