Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Patents for Sheep?


Patents for Sheep?

I’m reviewing notes I made in a book – Jumping the Curve: Innovation and Strategic Choice in an Age of Transition, by Nocholas Imparato and Oren Harari. I just have to share with you a great line about mid-way thru the book – “there is literally no way for a company to seize opportunities if it is saddled with an overly layered, overly centralized, and overly functionalized structure…. As former 3M CEO Lewis Lehr has said, ‘If you place too many fences around people, they can easily become a pasture of sheep. And how many patents are assigned to sheep?'”

We may be “the sheep of God’s pasture,” but somehow I don’t think God intended the people in the churches to be the sheep of the congregation’s pasture, or the sheep of the presbytery’s pasture.

One thing that we’ve been looking at in Minnesota Valleys is the level of layered, centralized structure we have, and asking the question – does it help or hinder the creativity and calling of individuals (and churches) to follow where God leads, or to do things that need to be done? There needs to be a balance, but there needs to be freedom too.

As a local church pastor, one question I would ask whenever someone had an idea of something they’d like to try was “how much permission do they need to go ahead?” I firmly believe that checking in and keeping people in the loop of what you’re doing is necessary. I also believe that we don’t need to be all doing the same thing – even in the church. The reality is in many of our churches and presbyteries, if someone has a passion to do something, by the time they jump thru all the hoops of permission granting, either the passion has died or so many barriers and objections are raised that they opt out or move on to other churches.

We need people who have passion, who are willing to try new things, and leadership in churches and presbyteries who are able to let go of enough power to let people learn how to fly. So what if not everything works. I can guarantee that will be the case. No one hits a home run every single time. Or even gets a hit half the time. (Let’s not be afraid of failure!) But if we can’t encourage people to discover and follow where God is leading them, and support them, aren’t we missing something?

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