loren Eric Swanson: Erwin McManus on Diffusion of Innovations

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Erwin McManus on Diffusion of Innovations

Came upon this article from an interview with Erwin McManus. Great stuff on early adopters and the diffusion of big ideas.

The thing with the Mosaic Alliance is this. We have very unashamedly gone after what's called the innovators and early adopters on the adoctored categorization. Are you familiar with that grid?


There's a sociological grid - not created by Christians, just a part of normal sociology - that says that 2.2% of the population are the Innovators and 12.4% are Early Adopters. 34.1 are called Early Majority. 34.1 are Late Majority and 12.4 are what are called Late Adopters. 2.2% are called Laggers, but that sounds mean so we call them Nostalgics. It's just a natural bell curve.
Now, I think one of the cultural dilemmas in Christianity is that for the last 50 years, Christianity has been dominantly led by people on the far right end of the spectrum - the Nostalgics and Late Adopters. I just met with Larry King. I mean, I didn't meet with him but I was at an event where I got to talk with him. And the first thing he says to me is, "John MacArthur. He can't decide whether it's 1936 or 1937." And I thought here's a guy who's like eighty years old. You know, it's Larry King.
But I was so embarrassed because that's the reality that the Christian leadership is the Late Adopters or Laggers. So all we tend to reach are up to this Late Majority. Megachurches tend to reach this 70% - the middle Early Majority to Late Majority. These are the people who love clustering in big groups and they want to feel they are a part of the majority or they're not safe. Does that make sense?


So what happened is that this movement of Jesus Christ, which started at the far left end... I mean, the book of Acts was the Innovators and the Early Adopters. These guys were risking everything. They shifted the sacred day from Saturday to Sunday. These guys were not connected to tradition or the past. They walked away from everything.
So they may have been fishermen, tax collectors and doctors but they had a certain connectedness. They were all willing to begin the new before anyone else thought that was right. So what's happened is that the church has lost this front 15% because, for one, it hasn't called people to vocational ministry who are at that end, who are willing to reach those people because they're hardest to reach. They disproportionally cluster in major cosmopolitan cities, which is why I'm in L.A. because L.A. is the capital of the future.
And that's why we're trying to plant churches in New York - we have two congregations there. And we're in Berkley, San Francisco and we're looking and doing things in England and Paris and South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia beacuse the world changes disproportionally. It doesn't changed in a balanced way. And so we've been working in China, India and the Middle East. What we need to do is target this top 15% of Innovators and Early Adopters because really the only people who are going to lead their religions, risk their family and everything to pursue Christ are these Innovators and Early Adopters. And if they move, everyone who takes their cues from them will move toward Christ.

What does the church do to reach that 15%?

Well a couple things. First, you have to have someone in that first 15% leading it and speaking on the church's behalf. Honestly, years ago, everyone who wants to be a Christian wants to be a Billy Graham. Somewhere along the road, I felt God say to me, "You're not gonna be a Billy Graham. Billy Graham speaks to that 70% - the middle. He speaks to the large giant group. But you can give your life to the top 12-15%. Nobody may ever know that you've done that, but if you reach one person in that group, you can change the course of history."
So some of the things we do consciously is, one, we move at a very fast pace, because Innovators and Early Adopters will not stay in a church that makes a major change every 120 years whether it needs to or not. (Laughs). The rate at which you bring change determines who is magnetized and who is repelled. So when you start making change rapidly, you start losing Nostalgics, you start losing the Late Adopters, you start losing the Late Majority because they think you're a heretic. They don't want that level of tension, anxiety and turbulence.
At the same time, when you start moving faster, you start drawing those Innovators and Early Adopters and for the first time, they find something that resonates with their soul. I mean, why would someone moving at lightning speed without Christ want to join something that doesn't move at all. For them, their acquiescing their significance and their capacity to do something meaningful in the world, even something good. So one thing is you have to increase the rate of change.
You have to have a lot of pliability and adaptability because Innovators and Early Adopters have low tolerance for doing something that doesn't work. So at Mosaic we say all structures, systems, programs, methods, schedules - all that stuff is disposable. Our only nonnegotiable value is people. And I think people in that top 15% understand that. If you really mean that the world is broken and lost without Christ and that people need to enter a relationship with God and are desperate to find God, then how can you justify making decisions that slow you down on this mission.
Link to complete article: http://www.infuzemag.com/interviews/archives/2006/10/erwin_mcmanus.html


At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:42:00 PM, Blogger Mark said...

That is some good stuff! Thanks for posting it!


At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:43:00 PM, Anonymous Larry Anderson said...

Let's meet at the Claremont and slide down the fire escape. Thirty-seven years ago, we got caught and didn't get to do it. If you get this, say hey, and I'll fill you in on more.

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 2:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Eric,

I didn't know you had a blog!

I'm sorry that we've had some confusion on those dates in June. I'm on vacation during that time, but Becky will contact you with another option.

I would love to catch up with you sometime.

robert gelinas (aka--jazztheologian)

At Thursday, February 22, 2007 4:31:00 PM, Blogger Shane Deike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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