The Urgency of Innovation

Have you been overwhelmed by all the bad news lately?

The recent $700 billion Wall Street bailout is equivalent to the cost when adjusted to inflation of the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Race to the Moon combined!

A Russian analyst predicts US downfall and division into 6 separate countries

Even our own analysts predict: The year 2025: Oil, dollar out; Russia, Islam in

In an article by Judy Estrin called Innovation: Crucial to Our Future, she writes:

“…the underlying infrastructure of research, development, and application that produced these marvels [iPhones, Facebook, etc.] — as well as world-changing innovations like the Internet — has drastically deteriorated in the U.S. in recent years. The decline of what I call our “Innovation Ecosystem” poses a grave threat to both the economic prosperity of our country and the security of our children’s future. The state of innovation is a critical issue….”

When faced with uncertainty and even destruction, Americans have arisen to the occasion.  At times, innovation is a byproduct of having our backs against the wall.  When we creatively work together, changing the rules when necessary, we can overcome great obstacles!

If the North American church realized how fragile we are and had the same sense of urgency about our mission, innovation would never be seen as scary.  Innovation would be seen as essential.

Showing 7 comments
  • Henry Zonio

    Amen! We need more innovators and more creativity. The church is at one of those historical moments, much like the time around the Reformation, when there is big change on the horizon. I’m excited to be a part of it and can’t wait to talk to my grandchildren and great grandchildren of how I got to be a part of such a huge thing in history. But right now, let’s “create the future” like I’ve heard Erwin say.

  • Jeff Erickson

    Hmm. . . perhaps I’m just not Weslyian enough. Perhaps I’m missing the boat by not ascribing to dominion theology. I have a couple of questions.

    The first is: what is the ultimate value of innovaton? Can innovation provide salvation?

    The second is: is innovation the sole, or even primary indicator of an excellent society, or is it merely an indicator of an already present or absent excellence. Can innovation be present without excellence?

    The third is: is nationalism more important than Christ? What should the Church’s role be?

    There is one thing that I cartianly agree with you on. The world primacy of the United States beyond 2025 is certainly questionable

  • Eric Bryant


    Thanks for your comment!

    You made several incorrect assumptions about my post which is common since I try to include too much info in too small of a place. 🙂

    First, I wasn’t talking about Wesleyan or dominion theology.

    When I think of innovation I think of the Lord’s words in Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” I think of the way God brought salvation in a way no one ever expected – He came to us in the person of Jesus. I think of Paul’s willingness to adapt and innovate and reach out in unique ways in each of the places he went as recorded in the book of Acts.

    Innovation is a means to an end: communicating the great news of Jesus in a way that people understand. Other words for innovation could include: relevance, authenticity, incarnation, and so on.

    I don’t see innovation and excellence as related unless you are using “excellence” to describe the quality of one’s efforts to reach others. If so, if someone is reached then the innovation was excellent. 🙂

    Finally, the prescription for the U.S. applies to the church or any organization or entity that is struggling. The future of the US and the future of the Church are not the same thing. I believe our commitment to Jesus and the Kingdom supercedes our commitment to our country (whichever one that might be). See the chapter on politics in “Peppermint-Filled Pinatas” for more thoughts on this.

    Hope that makes more sense!

    Enjoy your Christmas!


  • John Williford

    I am reminded again of Friedman’s book “A Failure of Nerve” in which he describes the state of our country concerning just these topics (and the book is decades old!). He lays out in detail all the different paradigms which influence our culture in a negative way- indeed these influences create such a culture where innovation is scarce and leadership is not an easily found commodity.

    It seems to be that America has already “cashed in” on many of its innovations, and that we’re rapidly approaching a point where we’ve spent all the currency available to us. Many, including myself, love to use the internet, iphones, and other technological wonders to speed up and improve our day to day lives, but are unaware of the sacrifice, effort and sweat it took to make such innovations possible. I’m not well-read on how Apple launched into the forefront of American consumerism, but I do know a few things about Steve Job’s life. Apparently it wasn’t easy! Jobs tinkered with his ideas in a garage, many were rejected or overlooked, and he was even ousted from the company he helped build. Because of his determination and will to succeed, Jobs was able to bring Apple into the modern century and secure one of the most profitable companies in the world.

    The interesting thing to note here is that Jobs didn’t have an iphone to help him build the iphone! The internet came along at some point, and I’m sure he utilized it, but it was his sweat, his determination, and long hours in a suburban garage that gave birth to innovation. I think we may have lost some of that, and that if our pastors are committed to innovating in the modern church, then they will need to encourage that type of work- work that doesn’t stand on the accomplishments of others but pushes through on original thought and drive instead.

  • Naomi Grether

    I have been thinking of similar issues in the last few weeks reading the news and going to a counterprotest in Austin with cookies. I did not know the predictions from years ago. The solution that I have figured out so far was to bring a dozen cookies or so to a few of the counterprotestors before volunteering for Fallfest. As I was trying to find someone to give cookies to I saw the Russian flag in the hands of the counterprotestors. Ironically the white supremicists in VA were reported to be associated with Russia. As I was keeping up on the latest over Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing I noticed alot of research from a Russian in Czech Republic and reports from a Rohingya that there was a problem with Russian involvedment. The Russian Government seems to be making an effort to have more influence in countries like Myanmar for resources and also does at the UN.
    The reason I baked cookies is because I am 44 and there are 20 year olds walking around trying to figure out the same things I am. My generation was born at the end of Vietnam and the war that I remember when I turned 18 was a war we seemed to win. Some of my classmates from the class of 1991 posted shock over Virginia. Now I grew up in a military town 3 miles from Mexico so many people also have been officers since the Persian Gulf War and are worried about the suicide rate of soldiers the same age as the protestors. My generation of latch key children, apathy, and greed need to care. I think that we have to learn that sometimes we have to do things out of obligation and care about the struggles and needs of the younger generation. Whether it is making cookies for the medics or going to the Austin Justice Coalition functions or sending care packages to miitary etc. Gen X needs to step up and care. As a church I think we should pray for the military, the protestors, counterprotestors, the artists, and the long list of all of people who kind of think God makes sense but are not sure because of people either being racist or too judgemental, but maybe I feel something spiritual people and not label as hipster or tree hugger. I think we need to bake cookies or healthy snacks or even better protest with the activists and pray for Amnesty International people stuck in prison in Turkey and pray for the prodemocracy activist in prison in Hong Kong people are trying advocate for. I think we need to pray for Buddhists and Rohingya and South Sudan and PASSIONATELY CHALLENGE GENOCIDE. And grief with relief workers and humanitarian aid workers and missionaries who are overwhelmed. I think we need to stop and cry and we need to stand up again and care again. From now until the rapture its going be tiring but we have a hope and the world that sees so much devestation is also grieving too much suicide.

  • Matt

    Change and the unknown are two of the greatest sources for stress and fear in human nature and a potential root cause for things such as hatred and discrimination. Innovation is, by nature, a change into the unknown. Therefore it requires not only the bravery and persistence of the innovators, but also vision of the early adopters to help create momentum. Jesus lead the efforts to innovate the church during his time in this world and the apostles were both the early adopters and the source of additional innovation as they actively worked to find the chord of relevance in culture at the time, pushing through any fear they may have had about the backlash. So the challenge for the current institution of church is to foster an atmosphere that welcomes innovation by the body of the church, while being true to the reason for the innovation (making disciples) and the principles (the Gospel) left for us to follow.

  • Chrissy

    Its interesting that we would need our backs against the walls at times to innovate in these circumstances. At which “Christian wall” would that become at stopping point to start pushing forward to spread the Good News? Like Matt said, the challenge is to foster the atmosphere that welcomes innovation while remaining true to Truth.

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