God equips each one of us for specific ministry. (I Cor. 12:12-27) Some folks are uniquely and adequately equipped to serve as protectors of the tradition as it is, and others are gifted to experiment, innovate, and try new approaches. Others are gifted to stand in the middle holding both tradition and innovation in tension. We need more risk-takers in the church!
Consider the early innovators of science and technology, people like the Wright Brothers, who failed many times at their attempts to achieve the first manned powered flight. Now, forty-seven years after the successful Apollo 11 landing on the moon, NASA has still failed to move humans beyond Earth’s orbit, but there are some who are dreaming about traveling to Mars. Innovation requires vision, patience, and fortitude both in times of success, in the midst of failure, and after periods of many setbacks.
Experimentation is costly and it may never show measurable results. Risk-taking and experimentation requires fortitude in the midst of setbacks, doubters, and detractors. Fear can keep us from trying or sustaining something different, from dreaming new dreams, and from stepping out and taking a risk. If trepidation wins, we will never know what possibilities might have been. Innovators, experimenters, and risk-takers require encouragement and support.
So, it is easy for folks to sit on the sideline and say, “stay with it” or “buck up and keep going” or even “it is time to give up.” When you are in the middle of the storm, when all those around you have lost faith in your vision, and when behind you there lies a string of false starts, early departures, and utter failures, the choice then is this, “you can just quit, or you can keep trusting God and keep going.” The future depends on innovators and experimenters who are willing to traverse the rocky and difficult road of failure, in order to see their vision come to fruition.
By the way, the next time you hop in a Boeing 737 for that short flight to see a friend, give thanks for the patience, fortitude, and vision of two men, Orville and Wilbur Wright. They were just two guys from Ohio that many people thought were simple, crazy bicycle makers that dreamed of flying with the birds.