Radical innovation and borrowing

Third in a series of posts on innovation in liberal congregations.

If we implement an old idea in our congregation, is that innovation? For example, megachurches have been projecting the words of hymns on a screen behind the pulpit for decades, whereas my congregation has always read the words to hymns from a hymnal. If my congregation starts to project the words of hymns onto a screen behind the pulpit, is that innovation? Really all we’re doing is adopting an old idea for our own use, but to us it will feel like a big innovation.

So let’s distinguish between several different levels of innovation:

(a) The lowest level of innovation is when we borrow a practice or idea that is widespread in other congregations that are similar to ours. For example, if your congregation doesn’t have a Web site and then you create a Web site, that’s an innovation for your congregation, but it’s a low level innovation. There is very little risk involved; and you can find a great many models and examples to guide you in the process.

(b) The next level of innovation is when we borrow a practice or idea that is widespread, but only in congregations that are substantially different from ours. Continue reading “Radical innovation and borrowing”