How can an organization, NGO, or a one-man band achieve great innovative results? In an article published in Outreach magazine, Saddleback Church senior pastor Rick Warren suggested that great innovations come from great questions, for without right questions, you won’t get the right answers, without right answers, you won’t build the right strategy, and without the right strategy, you will never get the results that one hopes for.
Warren suggests eight questions that he calls “eight nations of innovation,” where nations aren’t geographic, but of imagination. He has applied these same questions to building Saddleback Church, the Purpose Driven Movement, The PEACE Plan, the Global Peace Coalition and a number of other ministries. He categorized these innovation questions into eight “nations”: termination, collaboration, combination, elimination, reconstitution, rejuvenation, illumination, and fascination.
The first nation of questions is “termination”- What do we first need to stop? Saddleback Church used to have midweek Bible study, and around a thousand people came out each week; however, they decided to end the session for they were not satisfied with the results. As a result, the church decentralized the study materials and funneled it into small groups; there are now more than 32,000 people in small group Bible studies from Santa Monica to San Diego.
“You can have so many irons in the first that you put out the fire,” he shared. “When a horse is dead, dismount.”
The second nation of innovation questions is “collaboration” - How do we do it faster, larger, and cheaper – with a team? Warren revealed that the secret of Saddleback’s growth is mobilizing thousands of volunteers. Saddleback church fed 42,000 homeless people three meals a day for 40 days, which could not be accomplished without volunteers, during their 40 Days of Community. He emphasized the importance of finding volunteers.
The third nation of innovation questions is “combination” - What could we mix together to create something new? Several years ago, Saddleback Church combined the 12 steps of Alcoholic Anonymous and the eight beatitudes of Jesus to create Celebrate Recovery that is now the official recovery program in 17 state prison systems, and used by tens of thousands of churches.
The fourth nation of innovation question is “elimination” - What part could we take out to make it simpler? Then, Warren quoted AOL founder Steve Case that we always overestimate the amount of complexity people will put up with. To illustrate, he said that when he first started the church in 1980 in Orange County in Southern California, the land price was a million dollars an acre, and he decided that to eliminate the need for a building. For 15 years, the church grew to more than 15,000 in attendance without a building, and used 89 different facilities, including four different high schools, banks, camps, parks and tents. They became one of the largest churches in America before every having a building.
The fifth nation of innovation questions is “reconstitution” - What has died, but we could bring it back to life in a new form? For 2,000 years, Christian church has done systematic training, and the Catholics called it catechism. Warren said that although it had pretty much died a few years ago, their church reformatted system training for the internet age and thousands have gone through it.
The sixth nation of innovation questions is “rejuvenation”- How could we change the purpose or motivation for doing it? Warren said that there are numerous health plans in America, and the church knew that in order for people to fulfill their God-given destiny, they needed to be healthy. Through the Daniel Plan, Saddleback helped people change their motivation for both losing weight and exercising, and they changed the delivery system by having small groups work together to encourage one another to get healthy. In 2011, the church family lost an average of 4,000 pounds a day.
The seventh nation of innovation questions is “illumination” - How can we look at this in a new light? Warren said that after working with something for a while, it is hard to look at it with fresh eyes. A number of years ago, there was a crack in the bathroom mirror. At first, it really bothered him and wanted to change it, but again he didn’t change it. About six months later, it occurred to him that he still hasn’t changed it, because it no longer bugged him like it did at first.
Through this example, Warren said that sometimes we no longer see the critical issues like we should and it takes some new eyes to come in and see what you need to do in a new and innovative way.
The eighth nation of innovation questions is “fascination” - How could we make it more interesting? Warren said, “Whatever you’re doing, try to figure out how you can make it more interesting or attractive.”
For instance, he said, in order to create a sense of expectancy in the weekend services, where people sense that God in their midst and that lives were about to be changed, Saddleback church started to have members praying for the service all week, have enthusiastic members bringing their unchurched friends to the service, have a history of life-changing services, and have a worship team that faithfully believes lives will be transformed during the service and playing music that celebrates the transformational nature of God.
TEDxOrangeCoast - Rick Warren - The 8 Nations of Innovation