Christian ministries are not insulated from the hyper-speed of change in the twenty-first century.

Read Must-Haves for Innovation in Missions, Part One (Pilot Projects; Rigorous, Honest Evaluation; The Role of the Champion).

Unexpected Benefits

Supporting a culture of innovation often leads to the discovery of benefits which were not in view when an experiment was initiated. A well-known example in the business world is the discovery of the adhesive for Post-it notes. While attempting to invent a new strong adhesive in 1970, 3M researcher Spencer Silver ended up creating a very weak, apparently useless adhesive. Four years later, his 3M colleague Arthur Fry thought of a use for the weak adhesive as a movable bookmark that would stay put but not damage pages. Thus the genesis of Post-it notes, which appeared in the global marketplace in 1980 (The Great Idea Finder, 2006).

Being alert to the possibility and strategic merit of unintended benefits is crucial to maintaining a fruitful culture of innovation in mission. In 2011, The Seed Company tested two new methodologies for Bible translation in India, both of which surprised us with unexpected benefits.

The Video Audio Strategy for Translation (VAST) was developed as an accelerated methodology for crafting the script of the Jesus Film without dependence upon reading and writing skills. The Seed Company launched a pilot project in one language of southern India to see if a Jesus Film script produced in this fashion could be used as the basis for an accelerated translation of the complete Gospel of Luke.

However, after completing the translation of the Jesus Film using the VAST methodology, the language translators felt so empowered and enthusiastic about their new skill that they rushed ahead and drafted the entire Gospel of Luke in audio form in less than two months. They listened …

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