Letters to a young innovator

In each interview, we asked: What would you say to your younger self, or a group of people just starting out on the journey of doing something new? The following letter is a collection of what they shared.

“It is good you are asking questions, but I have to say first –you are in a unique moment at a particular time and place – nothing can replace what you will learn by being authentically present and listening deeply to the people right where you are.”

“Where to begin?? I guess first of I’d say – it takes a team, every single person has a role to play. Build a group of people around you with a mix of skills, help nurture their gifts and adjust to what you discover. Yes adapt and change but also draw a line somewhere that can define you and the community.”

“Know that sending one person alone is a pipe dream, it has got to come from the whole community. Even with a great team, it can feel lonely at times…challenging, you are breaking new ground…nobody can tell you how to do it because they haven’t gone where you are going before. Not everything works…not everything feels great all the time, not everyone will understand or be supportive, or even know how to be. It can feel personal, especially when there is disappointment. Take care of yourself, keep in touch with other pioneers, try and find a bigger perspective and hold to a sense of purpose. I can say for sure it is too exhausting to do this work unsupported for the long term. You can’t sustain it. You’ll always feel a tension between getting others to take on responsibility and not wanting to put pressure on them. Know that their growth depends on their participation and that ultimately is the whole ball game.”

“Remember to look for what you can give, not what you can get. People need to be met where they are at, none of this Sunday best or perfect people stuff. When you aren’t raised in the Church, walking into those four walls, not knowing how it works and how to respond – it’s terrifying. Everyone else knows what is going on.”

“Do things gently and out of love, not because it has to keep going forever. Let it transform into a new thing. Go with the ebb and flow, don’t try and force it. Support the innovator and their needs—financial, emotional. Offer encouragement, connection, peer friendships.”

“The times when things were at their best for us – we were a family, we made it a home and we looked outward together. Ask – is there love here? For whom? Is there pain here? About what? You do need someone to take initiative – helpers and supporters are good, but they have limitations. We planned a lot, but once things hit a stride we stopped asking questions. That wasn’t wise, we realised we weren’t taking care of spiritual growth. Business as usual became easiest. Eventually this meant we lost enthusiasm – we needed to stay on our edge, stay in a place of taking risks, even small ones.”

“On a practical note, location is important – accessibility, visibility, is it friendly to all people? I can’t say enough about committing and being consistent, these two ingredients need to be there.”

“Go for it, be bold, trust your gut. Realise your gifts. Do more of it, take it places beyond what you think is possible. Into the secular. Do it covertly, doesn’t have to be overt.”



  • Is there any ideas in this letter that you wish you knew earlier on in your ministry experience?
  • Is there any ideas in the letter above that you don’t agree with? What is your reason?
  • True or false: “Is isn’t possible to inform and equip people for innovation and pioneering. Its something you have to do, you can’t read about it”
  • Take a few minutes to think about your own experiences, what advice would you add to the letter?
  • Where are the spaces and oppurtunities for sharing wisdom and experience across the church? Have you ever been part of a learning event that significant shaped your thinking? What was it?
  • What might it look like for your context, team, project to contribute it’s discovery’s and insights to the wider church for others to learn from?

Wisdom from the pews

Going deeper

Interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

“If you want to do something new and innovative, be prepared to be misunderstood.” – Jeff Bezos

Hear more from Jeff in this 2018 interview: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/jeff-bezos-interview-axel-springer-ceo-amazon-trump-blue-origin-family-regulation-washington-post-2018-4?r=US&IR=T