How do people like Steve Jobs , Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell keep coming up with fresh ideas. Harvard Business School did the research and found their five secrets of innovation here.

Obviously we don’t want to be theological innovators. However, I could not help thinking that some of these “secrets” could help freshen up our preaching.

1. Associating

“What the innovators have in common is that they can put together ideas and information in unique combinations that nobody else has quite put together before.”

The preacher should try to connect texts and doctrines with real life situations and applications in ways that are not always so predictable.

2. Questioning

These behaviors are powerfully enhanced by a capacity to ask provocative, challenging questions of the world around them.”

“To improve your questioning skills, Gregersen recommends identifying a problem and writing nothing but questions about it for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. He says that over that period the questions will change, and so will your understanding and approach to the problem.”

The best exegetes of Scripture are those who ask the best questions of Scripture. We can learn better interrogation techniques by forcing ourselves to ask better questions.

3. Observing

“The way they act is to observe actively, like an anthropologist, and they talk to incredibly diverse people with different world views, who can challenge their assumptions.”

“To build your observation skills, identify a business, customer, supplier, or client, and spend a day or two watching how they work so you can better understand the issues they have to deal with.”

Preachers should learn to observe the world and interact with people outside their normal range of contact. Is it possible to spend a day with someone in your congregation as they go about their working life?

4. Experimenting

“For them, everything is to be experimented upon — for example, if they walk into a bookstore and they’re used to reading history they might try psychology.”

Why not pick a subject area – theological or non-theological – that you have not read much on and make it a focus for the next year.

One of the most encouraging statistics in this study for us plodders who are not blessed with fertile imaginations is that “creativity is close to 80% learned and acquired. We found that it’s like exercising muscles – if you engage in the actions you build the skills.”

Hope that might help some of us preachers and writers who may be stuck in a bit of a rut of sameness and staleness.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, David. I’ve found #2 most helpful for me. I asked two questions in my sermon yesterday to point out two things to my people yesterday: why did God give Moses two tablets and why were the people afraid of his shining face?

  • Anonymous

    I keep six honest serving-men(They taught me all I knew);Their names are What and Why and WhenAnd How and Where and Who.The rest of the poem –