The Value of “Outsiders” and Disruption for Renewal

Traditional organizations work hard to create uniformity and consistency.  We tend to educate all our pastors at the same institutions in order to ensure that there is very little differentiation in the leadership of the church.  But this approach may backfire.  Consider this,

“A certain amount of disorder and disruption are required for adaptation.  The system must spend some time on an apparently random search for options before it discovers the most adaptive responses.  If a system accepts only people who readily assimilate, the differentiation that is necessary for change and adaptation is reduced.  The system becomes closed.  It repels new ideas and perspectives.  A complex adaptive system needs the disrupting influence of persons with different education and training… In tightly controlled organizations, in which predictability and stability are prized, self-fulfilling prophecies eliminate the possibilities that come from difference.  People who might “rock the boat” are kept under control.  Organizations that value adaptation and change, on the other hand, see “trouble makers” as those who move the organization to its creative edge, where innovations are most likely to occur.  In these organizations, the diversity of ideas and multiple perspectives bring about change.” Edwin Olson and Glenda Eoyang, Facilitating Organizational Change: Lessons from Complexity Science, 2001, p.92

This quote jumped off the page!  It describes a great deal of our church structure today.  By tightly controlling the system, we may actually be choking it.  But by embracing the so-called “trouble makers”, we may actually be embracing a new generation of Martin Luthers.  We need a generation of people who uphold the Bible as Luther did, and turn our hearts to the person of Jesus, our Hope.


4 Responses to The Value of “Outsiders” and Disruption for Renewal

  1. Elaine Sauer says:

    I couldn’t agree more. We need people who are catalysts to make us think about ourselves and how we live in our world. We need people who challenge us to change and adapt with the world around us. What I hear people say, though, is that it is the manner in which we challenge and be catalysts that drives them crazy and makes them feel threatened. My first response is to say, “What, you didn’t like the fact that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the church?” Look at the difference it made back then and does today. Everytime we are challenged to change, we find new ways to do God’s work in the world. Otherwise we, the church, become stagnant. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not stagnant. It’s a catalyst for transformation.

  2. Scott says:

    If we don’t reach for the stars, we will wallow in the mud forever

  3. Ty Ragan says:

    Hmmm…Christians being troublemakers–now that is Christ-like…

  4. Ryan says:


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