Home > For NAD Pastors > Articles >
Three Questions for Gary Hamel
By Nelson Fernandez, Jr.

When you think of the word "innovation," "church" doesn't immediately come to mind.  What other thoughts do you have for the pastor who has a passion for innovation but faces the continued challenges of inertia and status quo that permeates most churches today?
When you look around the world right now, you'll see that the most powerful mechanism for innovation is open conversation (when you invite people to help you and share their ideas) and we haven't been very good at doing that as a church. If you want to build a more innovative church, I think you have to start by opening up a conversation with all of your congregation about what you can do together that's new and different that will move our church forward (incredibly, most people have never been asked that question directly). So when you put out that question and say, "we want to make a difference for God and make a bigger impact; what do we need to challenge and change," you will find pockets of passionate people that you never knew were there! Often these people be strong and committed enough to challenge that inertia and resistance that you'll find in other parts of the church.
Remember it can't be your dream. The role of a leader is to create other leaders and that means being open to their ideas and being willing to support them and help them. As long as you think "I have to be in control" and "the ideas have to start with me", then you're going to miss out on a lot of that energy.
What resources are there out there for pastors or administrators who want to go further with this idea of innovative leadership in their churches and organizations?
I've written about the work we've done with companies through the years on innovations and I can also recommend a few other books on this topic as well. One is a book called "Innovation to the Core" written by some of my colleagues. I would also read anything by Tom Kelly who works at Ideo, it's one of the most innovative design companies in the world out in Palo Alto, California. His most recent book can be found on Amazon and it's really great.
If you had a magic wand and unlimited resources, what is one program or initiative that you would invest in?
In today’s world, if you want to make a big impact, you don't build a program. You have to build a platform kind of like Jimmy Wales did with Wikipedia.  One of my dreams would be to build a technology platform where pastors all over North America and the world could share what's working for them. If we could brainstorm around our challenges and work collectively rather than individually, that would propagate best practices all across entire church. We can't wait simply for great ideas to bubble up to the top and trickle back down, we have to connect people laterally. The technology already exists, we just have to use it to its full potential

Nelson Fernandez Jr. is a writer and district pastor in the Carolina Conference with the Southern Union.  Gary Hamel is an American Management Expert on Innovation.