Pioneers: Control or Catalyse?

Last time we started to ask the question “Does everyone need to be excited about my new vision?” The answer to this was no!

Not everyone will be excited straight away, and it’s important to stick with those who respond,  rather than try to convince everyone.

But who will respond? And why doesn’t everyone respond at once?

To answer this, we need to consider how those within our communities and congregations may be at different stages of openness to change and new ideas.  Those we are initially attracting are what we would call the innovators & early adopters – the pioneers – and they make up only a very small percentage of a typical congregation.

Generally, this is what you expect to find:

Pioneers enjoy new ideas and new ways of thinking. They are attracted to something that is not yet proven, but worth exploring. Often, pioneers will happily sign up to a vision or concept – something that sounds exciting/interesting but doesn’t exist yet. We said last time that casting vision involves a future picture that others may not yet see.

The pioneers will begin to see this picture with you and want to be a part of making it real.

Most people, however, do not operate in this way and will need a tangible expression of this picture before they will come and join in.  They need to see something real – and see some results – before they will invest their time & energy in your vision. It’s important to be accepting of this rather than becoming frustrated by a lack of response from certain sections of your community.

If you build well, they will join you in time.

Over time, the great thing about building this way is that you can observe one group sharing their experience with the next: innovators will share their stories with the early adopters; early adopters will share with the early majority and so on, so that you are moving towards the wider community all sharing and participating. FYI – groups relate well to the group next to them so can only really share vision with that group – don’t let the innovators near the late majority & laggards!!!

Can you recall the scenes from the start of the London Marathon a couple of months ago? Nearly 40,000 people ran across the start line and set out on the race. But not everyone started at the same time. Those at the front raced off when the gun sounded. Then the next wave of runners crossed the start line. Then wave after wave of runners – 4 or 5 minutes after the start gun – only just started crossing the start line. For others at the back it took over 10 minutes from the gun to even starting the race. Get the picture?

Does this in any way render those starting at the back any less significant? Absolutely not! But they would not have been able to start unless the front-runners had moved off first.

So, what do we do with these ‘front-runners’?

Well, we would encourage you to see them as yeast in the dough – a little goes a long way. They will be the ones who will catalyse the vision to become something real.

With the rest of the congregation a scatter of seed – vision, story, testimony – helps to start the process but at a slower, shallower rate. Their time will come!!

This will not be a quick-fix, short-term solution. But over the medium and long term you will see your vision realised by a greater number of followers.

So, who are your innovators and pioneers?

Are you inviting them to walk closely with you?

Are they sharing in your vision and your story?


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