Moving from Continuous Complacency to Disruptive Innovation


Sometimes in my life when I look back at my time in the parish I feel for my congregation members. My parents raised me with the idea that “good enough” was not acceptable. The definition of complacency, “as soon as you are comfortable with where you are, you are heading in the wrong direction.”

Boy, do I relate to this quote, “Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is a rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course — downhill. They draw false strength from looking back.” -Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, p. 15.

The Signs of Complacency.

1) Satisfaction with things as they are.

15I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelations 3:15-16

Complacency is a spiritual condition. John describes it in Revelation with the Laodiceans. This church was in a spiritually lukewarm state. Their situation was not cold as in those in the world who have no relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. Neither were they hot fervently living out their calling as the people of God. No, the Laodiceans were in this comfortable middle, a state of Lukewarmness, they were complacent. One commentator describes it this way. “The lukewarm state, if it be the transitional stage to a warmer, is a desirable state (for a little religion, if real, is better than none); but most fatal when, as here, an abiding condition, for it is mistaken for a safe state[1]” He describes along with John the danger of settling for “good enough.”

2) The rejection of things as they might be.

How does the Church and Christian get here? There are many factors. It is a rejection of growth, personal, spiritual, and organizational. It is a rejection of an innovation. We will define this term later so hang in. The enemies of change are lack of vision, embracing the status quo, and too many rules and regulations.

Disruptive Innovation

When many church people hear business terms, they recoil immediately and reject them without ever taking the time to consider it. Let me start this section with a definition of what innovation is: “Innovation can be defined as the process of implementing new ideas to create value for an organization. This may mean creating a new service, system, or process, or enhancing existing ones. Innovation can also take the form of discontinuing an inefficient or out-of-date service, system, or process.[2]

What the church needs to hear from this is simple. I am not asking nor promoting we throw out our faith, our doctrine, our beliefs, but I am asking you to throw out the programs, the ministries, the practices that are not working, have not worked since 1954 and try to update your way of doing ministry. The world around you is changing; it is adopting, it is ignoring the church. The world sees the church as out of touch. I am sharing this because we have a message the world desperately needs to hear. I sort of feel like Jeremiah. Keeping the word of God to myself would be easy. Just preach to whatever people show up, but it is too critical to keep it contained in my building, in the ears of my tribe alone. There is an intense fire trapped in my heart burning in my bones demanding the word of God be shared. We have the message right, now let’s get the methods of delivery right. You can’t base new ideas on old paradigms.

9I thought, I’ll forget him;

I’ll no longer speak in his name.

But there’s an intense fire in my heart,

trapped in my bones.

I’m drained trying to contain it;

I’m unable to do it. Jeremiah 20:9

[1]Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible(Vol. 2, p. 562). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.



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