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good stuff Dawn. the tension of innovation vs. systems is a tough one.

Dawn Nicole Baldwin

Hey guys-- I've been traveling so I'm a bit behind as well.

These are great thoughts! Yes, the intent was not to debate paid vs. unpaid staff. I think there is definitely a role for both.

The mindset of a factory [or factory worker, for that matter] is what I was most intrigued by. Factories are built to chunk out the same exact product as efficiently as possible. Workers aren't expected to be different and are often reprimanded for breaking rank because change can be time consuming and expensive.

But it'll cost more in both time and money in the long run if you don't.

Andy Darnell

Great Post Dawn. Honestly, I don't have much to contribute. R&D? what a great idea.

Norman Tumlinson

I don't think anyone is saying paid staff it what is wrong with the church. I just think that sometimes it is much harder to get someone to be innovative if they are afraid of losing their paycheck.

Take Chrysler for instance. They didnt want to take a loan because the govt asked their high level excecs to take pay cuts/benefit cuts. That shows no desire for change or innovation.

I had to ask myself would I still do this job (student pastor) if I were not getting paid. If you can't say yes, then maybe you don't need to be the leader of this area.

Maybe someone who is already not paid, and 8 million times more hungry than a ministry fat cat, should be the leader. Passion trumps paycheck everytime.

Adam S

I have been traveling so I am behind. But I have to agree that it is not paid staff that are what is wrong it is misplaced priorities and teaching. Yes, in some church staff are paid to do what would be better done by volunteers, but paid staff are not in and of themselves what is wrong with the church.


Hi everyone! I came across this reading group through David Norman (but I forget how I found him now!) Anyway, I just borrowed the book from the public library and would love to join the conversation, too.

All the comments about the little guys, unpaid church staff, and the church as a factory resonate well with me! I'd never thought of the church as a factory, but now that I think of it I can think of a few off hand that resemble factories (and probably most seminaries, too!)

In these pages, the idea I appreciated the most was that leadership can come from anyone, anywhere in the organization. These words empower because I (actually, my wife and I both) feel that the way things are done in our present situation, MUST change but we are not in a position of authority, per se. But, this book is getting me all fired up because it is making me think that maybe I can actually step up, be a leader and make change.

I hope others are motivated in the same way that we are!

David Norman

How about rather than tossing out the idea of ministers, we empower new, young leaders just getting their feet wet to innovate.

My experience tells me that it's not that innovators aren't prepared in church-life. It's that they're condemned, fired, sent away, and "forced to get creative when solving problems because throwing more money or people at it isn't an option."

What if instead of "forcing" anyone, we gifted them, equipped them, and supported them to do more, faster?

Phillip Gibb

One huge benefit of unpaid staff or volunteers at that you definitely have their buy in and their dedication, and they are certainly not living for the paycheck.

Chris Downs

One of the things I love about our church is that the pastor is the only paid position. Everyone else is volunteer, and let me tell you that day and night those volunteers are cranking, and their devotion truly shines through.

Susan Stewart

Church R & D? Less Paid Staff? Now, we're talking innovation.

Phillip Gibb

Church R&D!! very cool.
paid full time or not, this is an opportunity for some great innovation.

Norman Tumlinson

"Marketplace companies have R&D labs; what about the Church? "... Uh wow! I fell out of my chair :) Great word!

Like Susan mentioned earlier, I feel as much as we hate the factory, many times it is much more comfortable.

Conversely, when you are the "little guy" (or a small business owner/entrepreneur) and you are just starting out, you are responsible for what happens that day. You sleep in, the business sleeps in. You put in extra hours the business is putting in extra hours.

Many times when we work in the big factory (or big church;) mindset we feel no personal responsibility for where the company is headed, or for its vision, or for its goals (and there's the rub). How can these big megaliths get there? I don't know if they can.

I don't know if I have a solution for the big guys. But what if we have less paid staff and more tribal leadership? Did I just say that?!? (being paid staff) it may create the type of momentum we need.

Phillip Gibb

There was that really cool Apple video; lets hear it for the troublemakers .... I just can't find it - it's perfect for this section.

I agree that "innovation is born out of initiative" but there is something missing: the cause for the initiative. The identifying of a need, a problem, a gap; then taking the initiative to deal with it through innovation.

Currently my church is having to do that because of the fact that people are not giving as much. This in a time when have just moved venues and plan to rebrand and rename. And we are the little guys and we are having to be creative and innovative to do the job every Sunday in a way that Honors God and brings people back next Sunday.

Susan Stewart

A few years ago I visited the church I grew up in. At the time there was a certain comfort in the fact that not much had changed since my childhood in the 60s. There is comfort in our memories.

Some of my childhood friends still attended there. They sat in the pew their parents had sat in. I think the order of the service was the same.

Some changes had been made - the words to the songs were on an overhead projected to the front, the old trees had grown taller, new carpet replaced the old. For the most part, it was the same.

The truth is this church had become a factory.

Churches, non-profits, auto makers all stagnate when the people involved become comfortable. Success does breed comfort for awhile.

Success is also the mother of "we've always done it that way." "That way" worked in the beginning, became comfortable, and now cripples future growth. Let's face it, few of us really want to move out of our comfort zone, even when that zone is being washed away by a flood of mediocrity.

As Dawn says, "innovation is born out of initiative." Initiative means leaving the comfort of the factory.

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