Five behaviours of disruptive innovators (Kim Hartshorne)

Kim HartshorneKim Hartshorne outlines five behaviours of disruptive innovators.

Pioneers are often people who find the status quo innately frustrating – mainly because they have seen a glimpse of how it could be better, improved, changed, more fit for purpose. But how do we get from where we are now in our organisations, to where we'd like to be? A bull in a china shop approach might not be the best way!

This article from the website of American media and publishing company, Forbes, talks about 'disruptive innovators' who agitate and help create the conditions where change can begin to happen:

Successful innovation requires the right culture but new or incumbent leaders frustrated with a slow pace of innovation can start making change happen by behaving differently. It takes work, and may require some retraining, but the authors’ point is that anyone can innovate if they follow the five skills of disruptive innovators. They are:

Questioning, which allows innovators to challenge the status quo and consider new possibilities. Example: Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Pradeep Sindhu of Juniper Networks.

Observing, which helps innovators detect small behavioural details – in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies – that suggest new ways of doing things. Examples: Rakesh Kapoor of Reckitt Benckiser and Jean-Paul Agon of L’Oreal.

Networking, which permits innovators to gain radically different perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds. Example: Marc Benioff of Salesforce. Victoria Barret's take on Benioff.

Experimenting, which prompts innovators to relentlessly try out new experiences, take things apart, and test new ideas. Example: Bobby Kotick from Activision Blizzard.

Associational Thinking – drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields – is triggered by questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting and is the catalyst for creativity. Example: Natura Cosmeticos, the 'Avon' of Brazil, which uses such cross-disciplinary teams to dream up new personal care products.

That's as good a description of pioneering as I think you'll see and I think it can be applied to so many situations we find ourselves in vis-à-vis the inherited church. Slow and steady sometimes wins the race and these skills will be incredibly useful for that.

You can read the full article on the Forbes website.

Welcome home? Hospitality as mission (Steve Taylor)

Steve TaylorSteve Taylor explores hospitality as mission.

'Welcome Home' is a song by New Zealand singer/songwriter, Dave Dobbyn. The chorus is gorgeous: 'Welcome home from the bottom of our hearts/from the bottom of our hearts… So welcome home, see I made a space for you now.' It is a song sung in response to a racist incident, in which a far right group suggested Chinese migrants were no longer welcome in New Zealand.

Which got me thinking about the church and hospitality. First, it's one thing to say 'Welcome'. Words are easy. It is quite another to move, to actually 'make a space'. This expression of hospitality is physical. The welcomer must move, must let themselves be disturbed in this act of space-making.

So all this talk about the church being hospitable, all this talk about the church being mission-shaped, must be more than words. It asks that we shift, we make changes, we let ourselves be disturbed as we explore the mixed economy and fresh expressions of church.

Second, there is a much deeper mission-shaped question around the phrase: 'Welcome home'.

I wonder what it means for the church to see itself as homeless rather than home-owner? To forget practising welcome and instead go looking for welcome?

Theologically, did Jesus ever say, 'Welcome home'?

Is it not the opposite, that in the act of incarnation, Jesus left 'home'? What about the fact that much ministry was done not in Jesus' home? Rather, Jesus constantly experienced hearing the words 'welcome home' – at Matthew's house, in Zacchaeus' place, at Mary and Martha's.

It is like Jesus is the song hearer, the migrant, not the singer.

Which makes me increasingly disturbed by a hospitality which places the church as the singer of 'welcome home'. This was the dominant ministry posture of Christendom, an era in which the church was the host and we expected the world to come to us.

Now in a post-Christendom world I hear people rifting off the Prodigal Son, the church becomes the father, waiting for the culture, which has stomped off. So if we are patient, like the Waiting Father, in time we will get to welcome the returning. 'Welcome home.'

And all the time I keep hearing the incarnation. And wondering what it means for the church to see itself as homeless rather than home-owner? To forget practising welcome and instead go looking for welcome? To make ourselves reliant on people to make space for us?

Which is certainly the heart of Luke 10.1-12, in which the disciples are sent, speaking peace, to be reliant on the welcome and hospitality of another.

August: sunshine, holidays – and cleaning up after the riots (Arun Arora)

Cleanup in BirminghamArun Arora reflects on sunshine, holidays and cleaning up after the riots.

In my previous churches, summer has been a time for rest: annual family holidays, lighter service rotas and genial informality all under the shade of a summer sun.

This summer has been rather different.

At the end of July we worked hard as a church to run Wolverhampton's very first Street Festival in the city centre: a four day long event with busking, live music (mixing secular and sacred), drama, free face painting, fire juggling and even group street dancing (imagine a flash mob doing the Macarena on a city centre high street and you get the idea). The sun shone all week, and the response was incredible. As a church we felt that we had gone a little way to living out our mission statement of: worship fully, love all, serve the city. Summed up, we felt we were 'putting a smile on the face of the city the way Jesus would have'.

We had barely had time to reflect on the festival when, in a meeting, my phone began to buzz with text messages about the riots in Birmingham. I returned home and watched on television the violence unfold in the city of my birth.

There were about 100-150 people who had all turned out with brooms, bin liners, gloves, but most of all with a desire to stand in solidarity with a city that they called home and loved – it was a stand against the darkness

Soon after, the first messages began to appear on my Twitter stream about #riotcleanup, with a suggested meeting place the next morning in Birmingham. Five of us travelled into the city the next day to help with the clean up, only to discover that most of it had been done. However, our journey had been far from wasted. Standing and talking with the others who had turned up, we spoke of our shared love of the city and of our desire to stand up for something more, something different than what we had witnessed the night before. Call it incarnational theology if you want, but simply being there was a statement.

On our return from Birmingham, we became aware of some of the text messages being sent out to organise riots in Wolverhampton that night. Those of us qualified as Street Pastors took the decision to go out and patrol the city centre – to pray God's peace over Wolverhampton. It was clear within 20 minutes of our arrival that something ugly was going to happen – just like the strong thickening smell in the air prior to a downpour –  so the timbre of the city centre was thick with anticipation of  something evil to come. The riot was brewing. The police had told shops to close at 2pm and by half four they advised us to leave. We did so. An hour later the riots began.

The next morning we gathered again in the city centre for the clean up. This time there were about 100-150 people who had all turned out with brooms, bin liners, gloves – but most of all with a desire to stand in solidarity with a city that they called home and loved. It was a stand against the darkness. Most of those gathered were young, and the sight of so many young people gathered to join together for the city as opposed  to what had happened the previous night was a timely reminder of the motto  of Wolverhampton: 'out of darkness cometh light'.

At the end of the clean up, as an act of comedy in the midst of tragedy, we decided to reprise that part of the Street Festival where we invited members of the public to join in a group street dance. So it was that barely eight hours after the last rioters had left the streets, we invited people to dance the Macarena in Queen’s Square to the sound of laughter and applause.

At our weekly gathering on the first Sunday after the riots we reflected on one of our foundational texts as a church: Jeremiah 29 – God's instruction to the exiles not to listen to those who counselled remaining apart from the city, but rather to seek its welfare. Not to be assimilated by the city, but to seek to engage fully with it. To remember God’s promise to prosper us in the place to which he has brought us and to be a light in a place of darkness.

Changing patterns of ministry. Roll on September! (Simon Sutcliffe)

Simon SutcliffeSimon Sutcliffe reflects on the changing patterns of ministry as he looks forward to September.

One of the great joys of being a minister is that you get the chance to diversify and grow in your chosen fields of interest. In my ministry I have been able to pastorally care for rural church communities, for middle class suburbs and in an urban city centre context. I have also been able to explore youth ministry, fresh expressions, church growth, training and education and lately emerging church and academia.

I have been lucky enough to have been a lay worker in the Methodist and Anglican Church, a youth worker for local authorities, a circuit minister, a circuit superintendent, a church planter and a pioneer minister.

In each case it has been important to locate what model or style of ministry resonates most closely with my experience. Lately, as a pioneer minister, I have felt the call of the wandering friar. Often I spend my time wandering around looking for moments of what I believe are God's activity (and that is always a personal opinion – others might see nothing of the divine in it!). When I see that activity, I decide to rest a while and eventually move on. It is a wonderful way to live and begins to make sense of the rather pointless endings of Paul's letters along the lines of, 'Say "Hi" to Pete and the gang and tell Gary I'll pop by the next time I'm in town.'

This is a dream come true – I now get to push the boundaries of church and get to explore that academically

Well it seems my style/pattern of ministry has changed again! As many of you know, I am appointed as a pioneer mission leader with venture FX of the Methodist Church. I am now going part time with venture FX and have taken up another part time appointment as the tutor for evangelism and church growth at The Queen's Foundation, Birmingham. So basically I am working part time for venture FX and part time as a theological tutor at Queen's.

Those who have known me for a long time will know that this is a dream come true. I get to have my cake and eat it! I now get to push the boundaries of church and get to explore that academically.

I cannot overstate how excited I am about this appointment. For the romantics, this is everything I have dreamed of. For the working classes (which I am proud to have come from), this is everything I have worked for. For the theists, I feel completely blessed!

That's not to say I'm not daunted about the future. But for now I'm going to bask in the absolute joy that today I am a pioneer minster and theological educator.

As a colleague wrote to me: 'Roll on September!'

Pioneer mission: a peddling of religion? (David Muir)

David MuirDavid Muir asks whether pioneer mission is just a peddling of religion.

When it comes to the mission of God in our world, there is no point in just going through the motions. Either we do it from the heart, from deep inside our spirits, or we might as well stay home and watch TV – because the Enemy will find us out. OK, nonetheless the grace of God still sometimes works through even our most shallow of efforts, but then that same grace sometimes works without our efforts altogether.

What fires us up? In generations gone by, and still in some places today, it was literally the fire – and the brimstone – stored up for all who did not come to that point of acknowledging Christ as Saviour and Lord. Whose heart could not be moved by the awful prospect that those who today form part of our daily (even intimate) life might suffer in eternal and unimaginable pain? Mission was sheer compassion, not wanting anyone to suffer any such fate.

I still believe in hell. But I am probably not alone in being a whole lot less sure that anyone who has not been signed, sealed and delivered into the life of the church will end up there. It is then an easy slide into seeing the spiritual life as the icing on the cake of humanity. And suddenly even pioneer mission becomes a promotion of the glorious icing, a selling of a great enhancement to your life – or, as St Paul put it, a peddling of religion.

What I'm missing is the grief, that good grief that tears the heart over the state of those who do not find Christ. The best I can think to do is pray for those I know who do not yet have a faith, seeking a vision for who they could be if only they put their lives into the hands of their Creator and Redeemer – and hope that a gulf opens up in my heart and mind between that and who they are at present, that will truly grieve my soul. Or does anyone out there know how to enter into the 'good grief' another way? I fear that all my best efforts will be too shallow without it.

Dreamers who do (Jonny Baker)

Jonny BakerJonny Baker looks for the dreamers who do.

I am really looking forward to being at the Break Out Pioneer Gathering in September. I confess I missed it last year because my life was in chaos getting ready to start our brand new CMS pioneer training course. And, as ever with these things, I was chasing my tail.

But, 12 months down the line, we have had a fantastic first year with pioneers, learning loads about how to support them and develop training that is really equipping them for practical pioneer ministry in a variety of contexts. I have personally been challenged and inspired myself in all sorts of ways; it's been a mutual learning.

One of the many things that has been exciting with our community of students – and something about which I hadn't expected to find quite such an emphasis – is the amount we have talked about imagination and I would say prophetic imagination. This has been so strong that I have started to think what we might have on our hands is a community of prophets.

In saying that, I am hesitant to use the word prophet as – depending on the circles you move in – it can have some ‘baggage’ and would you take anyone seriously who said they were a prophet?! But at CMS we have been really thinking hard about Jesus the prophet and prophetic mission – in fact this whole notion is stirring us up quite considerably.

We need people who operate out of a prophetic imagination to call us into an alternative future

At a time when there is so much challenge and change in the church and culture, we most definitely need people who see and call us to live differently, who operate out of a prophetic imagination to call us into an alternative future. So, as a speaker at Break Out, expect me to be musing on imagination and prophets. And try not to think too hard about what tends to happen to prophets.

John Taylor calls mission 'an adventure of the imagination', which I absolutely love as everything that exists that is new must have been imagined first. It seems such an underrated gift. One of the phrases I came across recently for those who bring newness in this way was 'Dreamers who do', which I love as well. And if I'm going to talk about this, I guess I'd better have some poems, movies, ritual, music and photography to connect beyond just the rational or logical parts of our souls and minds and hearts.

There have been a couple of pieces of research recently into the experience of pioneers and pioneers in training. One from the Church of England’s Ministry Division and one by Beth Keith on behalf of Fresh Expressions. Both are excellent and sobering at the same time. Beth's was conducted through a series of small group gatherings of pioneers round the country. The information has then been collated into a series of themes raising a number of points and offering some recommendations.

So I'll also try and connect into some of those challenges and themes – though in many ways I suspect they are telling us what we already know! But it's nice to have some research to confirm your hunches. See you in September?

Timing is everything for fresh expressions (Ben Norton)

Ben NortonBen Norton discusses why timing is everything for fresh expressions of church.

For me, to be called to live as a pioneer means to live without any form of certainty: 'there are no guarantees'. This, I believe, will have an impact on the sorts of communities we see emerging under the leadership of pioneer ministers. 

These are new Christian communities that don't focus on micro details of seeking answers such as: 'How can we make sure we are always going to exist in this way?', but rather communities that ask questions such as: 'Where are we travelling next on this journey?' and 'What will we look like as we grow?'

I am now heading to the end of five-and-a-half years as an Ordained Pioneer Minister in training, and the next step is going to be some sort of deployment. What this next role will look like is very undefined at the moment, but it brings with it many different thoughts and feelings – both for me personally and for the communities which have been formed during my time in this part of the world.

I have one quote that has stayed in my mind more than any other when it comes to thinking about pioneering ministry, and that comes from Vincent Donovan when he states: 'to enable people, if they wish it, to learn about and understand the basic Christian message, the Good News, to baptise those who then ask for baptism, to bring them up to their first Eucharist – and then to GO! It was for these new Christians to work out their own life as church.' Although the context is very different, the essence remains that these new communities need to be given the space, within inherited structures, to be able to stretch their wings.

New communities need to be given the space, within inherited structures, to be able to stretch their wings

Many people have asked what will make the new communities identifiable as Anglican, Methodist or URC? This is a great and right question to ask from an inherited viewpoint, but if one was to give an answer it would unravel the question being asked in the first place. 

For example, when a football manager buys in new players for his team, those new recruits wear the club shirts. They also adopt the ethos and heritage of the club, but the way they play may be nothing like anyone at that club has ever seen before. Therefore for someone to ask before a ball has ever been kicked, 'What makes them part of our team?' would be to reject their identity before it could be formed.

Timing is everything when it comes to fresh expressions of church – whether that is considering a BMO, the leader moving on or how the vision is going to be worked out. I am just glad that it is God holding the timepiece and not me!

Home from home: new pioneer hub (Andy Freeman)

Andy FreemanAndy Freeman shares his hopes for the new CMS pioneer hub.

I have just started a new job. In some ways it's daunting because the role is for just nine hours a week, but it's also very exciting and I'm so glad to be part of it.

So what is this daunting and exciting prospect? In a nutshell, I will be working with CMS to develop a pioneer hub for the south of England. The hub is a new development, funded by the South Central Regional Training Partnership – that's Anglican, Methodist, URC and other churches in the Oxford, Guildford, Portsmouth, Winchester and Salisbury dioceses/areas. The idea is to create a specific hub to support pioneers in the region, in connection with existing resources and training.

In the past 12 months, CMS – alongside other training providers in the area – has been developing specific training and support for pioneers. Over the next three years, these are the sorts of things we hope to see happen in the region:

  • a supportive network of pioneers.
  • an annual gathering of some sort.
  • a network of mentors/coaches available to pioneers.
  • the development of good practice and policy for pioneers in dioceses and districts.
  • collaboration between training providers so that pioneers get best training possible.
  • specific practitioner sessions at CMS, starting in September 2011.
My hope is that the pioneer hub will become a place of network and support to pioneers in the south of England

For these five dioceses to contribute to a resource dedicated to pioneers is wonderful. As a pioneer ordinand in training myself, I know how tough things can be, and how important it is to have focused support and training. My hope is that the pioneer hub will become a place of network and support to pioneers in the region, a place of training that directly helps pioneers and a place of connection to anyone pioneering in the region.

The pioneer hub is there for you whether you're a lay or ordained pioneer, whether you're in training or whether you're simply getting on with things. If you're a pioneer, I'd love to hear from you and shape this hub around your needs. Feel free to drop me a line at

‘Fringe’ expressions in global cities? (Andrew Jones)

Andrew JonesAndrew Jones explains why he's starting fringe expressions in global cities.

In recent weeks I have been in three of the world's largest cities – Hong Kong, Beijing and London.

While there I met with friends who are working in Tokyo and Seoul. Over the next year I hope to visit a dozen more of these ridiculously large, sprawling, intimidating metroplexes. Some of the most exciting models of doing church and ministry differently (and sometimes more effectively) are happening in these places.

Here are some thoughts I've had so far about the associated challenges:

Countryside. To reach the cities we also need to reach the countryside. Beijing's population has swelled by a further six million people recently to reach 19 million, mainly due to the number of workers arriving from rural areas. These workers leave their families behind and many of them only return once a year, usually during the New Moon Festival. If we apply all our resources to the cities and forget the countryside, we might see families devastated in the process.

Institutions. It is not fair to say that incarnational and organic models of church are opposed to institutions because many of them are starting institutions of a different form. Instead of starting a church institution, they start a kingdom-principle-oriented social enterprise or micro-business and then allow spiritual community to form around it. These structures allow greater financial sustainability as well as fluidity for the communities to function as church, even if they cannot gather as such.

Monastic. Urban monastic models of church, and their modern-day counterparts that look less like monasteries but function the same way, are increasingly effective in the urban environments of global cities.

Rich and poor. Reaching cities means working with both rich and poor at the same time. The poor need resources, empowerment and justice and the rich have resources, power and justice to dispense. Bringing them together is essential and it is in these moments that the church becomes church. A missional focus allows both groups to work together.

These fringe expressions of church will go where no fresh expressions or missional communities or emerging churches have gone before

Many of the 50 holistic fresh expressions of church that we want to help young leaders start and develop over the next year will be in global cities.

We will do this by partnering with leading mission organisations and denominations. Our aim is that the new church/mission structures will act as role models for church planting in the toughest parts of the world. As well as being highly effective fresh expressions of church and mission, these new communities will bring a lasting, holistic impact. Through:

  • social enterprise and micro-business they will move their ministries towards long-term sustainability.
  • social justice ventures they will touch the needy in their cities in measurable ways – ie, a spiritual, social, financial and environmental impact.
  • social media streaming they will contagiously share their story to leverage their experience and compel others to follow their examples.

Sneaky, huh?

These 50 new communities will be fresh expressions of church but, also, because they will intentionally position themselves to impact those on the fringe, we will call them 'fringe expressions.'

By fringe, I mean the cultural fringe (alternative, non-churched, victimised), the economic fringe (poor, needy, vulnerable), the geographic fringe (church-unfriendly areas and countries) and the spiritual fringe (NOT your father's old-time religion) where traditional church efforts make little progress.

Or, in other words, they will go where no fresh expressions or missional communities or emerging churches have gone before.

Threatened by a missional community? (Stuart Goddard)

Stuart GoddardStuart Goddard asks why people might be threatened by a missional community.

Reconnect is a missional community in Poole and Paul Bradbury leads it as Pioneer Minister for Poole Town Centre and Hamworthy East. As the Rector of Hamworthy I am sometimes asked if I see this work as a 'threat' in some way.

The short answer is, 'No, I don't', but it is an important question.

The work that Paul is doing comes from a vision for a pioneer minister that was in place before I took up my post. It was put to me during my interview by the then Bishop of Sherborne as two questions: 'What do you think of this big idea?' and 'Would you feel threatened if someone was appointed to work independently on your patch?'

The original big idea boiled down to a suggestion for a bit of school chaplaincy, a bit of UPA mission in Hamworthy West and a bit connected with a pioneer role in the regeneration area. In the end, the big idea changed shape and became two posts. This could have got messy and vague.

One of the reasons why it went well is that senior staff – an area bishop and an archdeacon – and the deanery clergy through the deanery plan, were working on the vision very early on. They were therefore trying to appoint new clergy who would share and develop the vision with them. This integrated forward planning replaced any sense of threat with a feeling that I was part of a bigger team who were involved in innovative mission, both within the parish, especially in the Urban Priority Area, and in the regeneration area.

The commitment from everyone to make mission-focused appointments anchored the shifting nature of the multi-layered and protracted discussions.

Once in post I started to roll up to meetings that were exploring the idea of appointing a pioneer minister to work solely in the regeneration area. Canon Nigel LLoyd, our then area dean, chaired these. They also involved:

  • the three clergy whose parishes the regeneration area wholly or partially overlapped;
  • one other whose parish had the use of a house in the area, which was seen as a potential base or meeting place;
  • Archdeacon Alistair McGowan, now Bishop of Ludlow, who happened to be steering the Bishop's Mission Order concept through General Synod;
  • a businessman with Christian Vision who had project management skills and experience of being part of a successful church plant in a new estate.
The work can grow with an informed mutual respect for our different ways of building church as we interact with the varied communities in this part of Poole

These meetings established that an appointment was do-able with financial support but only secured for three years. Paul was appointed and the make up of the group changed – to include Paul (obviously) and a new area dean, Jean de Garis. Nigel LLoyd remained on board because of his longstanding experience of the project.

The team was highly democratic and representational, but a move to set up a charity to secure future funding caused us to realise that we were short of people with both the time and the business background to do this. The result was that the four local parish clergy dropped out and others (they happened to be clergy too) were recruited from the wider diocese. The new team shared the vision and filled out the much needed expertise in business management.

I didn't find it easy to walk away from the last meeting knowing we were no longer on board. I didn't feel it was threatening exactly – except to my strong belief that parish clergy needed to have voice to keep things grounded – but actually it was exactly the right thing to do. The philosophy was in place, Paul was in place. But for Paul to give time to developing the missional communities, we had to let the business know-how team get on with it.

The re-formed team set up Poole Missional Communities as a limited company that they then sought to have registered as a charity. This hasn't been as straightforward as was hoped.

As the new phase kicks in, I've been re-recruited to join the charity as a trustee. Having had a small share in the responsibility for appointing Paul and many opportunities to go on supporting him, it certainly feels good to be involved in the project more formally. It means the work can grow with an informed mutual respect for our different ways of building church as we interact with the varied communities in this part of Poole.