Six Ways to Engage in Christian Innovation

by Len Wilson

Doing the work of the New Creation is not a matter of executing a plan of best practices. Yet there are sectors and boundaries within which we must work if are to make positive change. I sometimes get asked basic questions about where to begin. To help jump start your inspiration, here is a simple list of six powerful ways to create change.

1. Products And Services

The first response to the concept of innovation and to the needs of the world is to create a new product or service. Many of the examples in this book have been people whose work led to new products or services that benefitted people and made their lives better. 

A recent example that comes to mind from the world of communications and media is the YouVersion app, led by LifeChurch in Edmond, Oklahoma, which was a fresh connection of mobile technology and Bible reading. By any definition, with over 100 million downloads, the YouVersion app has done greater things for the New Creation.

2. Policy

Policy is the action of positional authority. Positional authority is what we have when we have a title or a place of authority among our peers. Pastors, by virtue of their position, find themselves placed in authoritative situations all of the time.

While it can be argued that culture has been steadily stripping away this authority for generations, and this is probably true at a public level, in closed communities and individual conversations, pastors still yield an immense amount of authority.

It is not simply the position that matters. Position alone does not lead to innovation; in fact, it is often the way that groups resist innovation. Policy is the structural action that we create from a place of positional authority to affect positive change. Policy dictates law, but more important even than law, it sets social norms and the exchange of money. This can happen at a societal level or even in the work of a local church. The primary example from this book is the work of the abolitionists that ended slavery in England.

3. Personality

At a basic level, this is a reference to charisms, which is our divinely given power or giftedness. Culturally speaking, personality is often seen as charm, or at a darker level as seduction or manipulation. But each person’s gifts are uniquely part of the work of the New Creation. Change is not about just the position or the product; it is about your unique contributions. Your ability to affect change is as much a product of your ability to connect and influence others as it is your ability to structurally implement policy. This comes down to your passions.

4. People

While good ideas that can affect positive change can come from anywhere, some people have a special talent for putting the right people in the room together. I am thinking of a few such friends in my circles as I write this. These friends seem to have a special knack for bringing together two people who ought to know one another directly.

One of my favorite ways to solve any problem is by considering the best who for the job, the right person to call. Realizing this is realizing the power of relationships, which is at the heart of the gospel.

5. Pictures

Image is the indigenous language of the mind. All ideas are conceived in the form of a vision of the future, which is an image not a sentence. This image solves a problem. The ability to describe this picture to others is at the heart of effecting change. This means, if you want to change, paint a picture. It can be an actual visual image or a picture composed of words. The power of pictures cannot be overstated.

6. Presence

Perhaps most important, we can affect change through Christian innovation with the power of presence. Human communication is the sharing of ideas. This is not a one-way street in which we are sending messages and other receive them. It’s a dynamic, beautiful relationship in which we listen and learn from others. The listening and learning is, in fact, more important than the sharing and sending.