Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community

Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community

by Mark DeYmaz


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718089092
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

A recognized leader in the Multiethnic Church Movement, Mark planted the Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas in 2001 where he continues to serve as Directional Leader. In 2004, he co-founded the Mosaix Global Network with Dr. George Yancey and today serves as its president, and convenor of the triennial National Multi-ethnic Church Conference. In 2008, he launched Vine and Village and remains active on the board of this 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on spiritual, social, and financial engagement and transformation in Little Rock's University District, the 72204 ZIP code. Mark has written six books including his latest, Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community (Thomas Nelson, March 2017); and Multiethnic Conversations: an Eight Week Guide to Unity in Your Church (Wesleyan Publishing House, October 2016), the first daily devotional, small group curriculum on the subject for people in the pews. His book, Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church (Jossey-Bass, 2007), was a finalist for a Christianity Today Book of the Year Award (2008) and for a Resource of the Year Award (2008) sponsored by Outreach Magazine. His other books include, re:MIX: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon, June 2016); Leading a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church(formerly Ethnic Blends, Zondervan, 2010, 2013), and the e-Book, Should Pastors Accept or Reject the Homogeneous Unit Principle? (Mosaix Global Network, 2011). In addition to books, he is a contributing editor for Outreach Magazine where his column, "Mosaic" appears in each issue. He and his wife, Linda, have been married for thirty years and reside in Little Rock, AR. Linda is the author of the author of the certified best-seller, Mommy, Please Don't Cry: There Are No Tears in Heaven, an anointed resource providing hope and comfort for those who grieve the death of a child. Mark and Linda have four adult children and two grandchildren. Mark is an Adjunct Professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, and teaches D.Min. courses at seminaries across the country including TEDS, Western, and Phoenix, where he earned his own D.Min. in 2006.

Read an Excerpt


Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community

By Mark DeYmaz

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2017 Mark DeYmaz
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-8922-1



In the summer of 2010 I had the privilege of driving my oldest daughter, Emily, to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she spent her freshman year in college. Two days on the road together provided us with quality time to enjoy the experience, good conversation, and some music.

Now, I came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, so my idea of "good music" is the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Jackson Browne, and the like. Behind the wheel, then, I had the sunroof open, the speakers cranked, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young in the queue as we pulled out of Little Rock on a sunny August morning.

Forty-five minutes or so into the trip, however, Emily asked if she could plug her iPhone in to the speakers and listen to some of "her" music. "Sure, sweetheart," I said, though deep in my heart it was not something I wanted to do. That's why about thirty minutes later I suggested we take turns the rest of the way listening to each other's playlists!

Under this arrangement, I mostly endured the first day whenever the time came for Emily to play the bands and songs she liked. Her taste in music was different than mine. Generally the bands were unfamiliar to me and the sound not something to which I was accustomed.

By the second day, though, as some of the songs repeated, I began to catch the beat, understand the words, learn more about the bands, and sing along. That's why two days later, while saying good-bye to Emily outside her dorm, I made sure to get some of her music — certain songs and artists she had introduced to me — to download and enjoy on the return trip home. In fact, they remain on my playlist to this day. No longer new, they are now a reflection of my own musical taste.


Isn't it interesting?

Generally speaking, we typically don't like new music the first time we hear it. We don't know the artist. We don't understand the lyrics. We can't catch the beat. With this in mind, American music critic Steven Hyden wrote: "Even for a professional, following new music takes a lot of time and effort. ... You have to be willing to wade into unfamiliar waters to find the most exciting artists, and that can be tough for older listeners who are accustomed to music with firmly established parameters. Sometimes, it's just easier to stick with what you know."

As Hyden suggested, it may be easier to stick with what you know, but that would be a big mistake for those of us leading the church today with an eye on the future. Sticking with our firmly established parameters of effectiveness and the traditional metrics of success to which the American church has long been accustomed is no longer an option for pastors and local churches seeking to advance the kingdom of God in a rapidly changing, demographically shifting society.

The fact that you are holding a copy of this book demonstrates your willingness to wade into unfamiliar waters, and that's encouraging. Yet make no mistake: wrapping your head, heart, and hope around the "new music" I intend to play for you in this book will, similarly, take some time and effort. At first, it may not be easy for you to understand the why or to process the how. Nevertheless, let me encourage you to keep listening. I have shared this message with large numbers of local church pastors and denominational leaders over the past few years, and I am confident it is the distinctive sound of the future, the new norm to which we must all adjust and soon embrace.


In 1995 Harvard Business Review published an article titled "Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave," by Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen. The article has since become a seminal read on the future of business innovation, growth, and development. In fact, it is here that the concept of disruption, or more specifically, "disruptive innovation," is first discussed and distinguished from what the authors call "sustaining innovation."

Whereas sustaining innovation seeks to maintain customer satisfaction, loyalty, and market share through incremental product improvement, "Disruptive innovation, a term coined by Clayton M. Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of the market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors." In simpler terms, when research and development in successful companies is more focused on the present than the future, innovative adapters go to work off the grid, discovering what's next, determining how to get there, and, more significantly, defining for others why it matters.

Thus, the article begins with the following statement: "One of the most consistent patterns in business is the failure of leading companies to stay at the top of their industries when technologies or markets change. ... Xerox let Canon create the small-copier market. ... Sears gave way to Walmart. ... IBM dominated the mainframe market but missed by years the emergence of minicomputers, which were technologically much simpler than mainframes."

The fundamental question addressed by Bower and Christensen is why: "Why is it that companies like these invest aggressively — and successfully — in the technologies necessary to retain their current customers but then fail to make certain other technological investments that customers of the future will demand?" I believe their response is instructive for the American church. Before turning our attention in that direction, however, let's take a moment to further consider the concept of disruption.

Initially, Bower and Christensen cite five factors that contribute to an established company's failure to recognize, invest, or adapt in order to position itself for future need, demand, and opportunity. I've listed the five factors here, adding my own insights.

1. Bureaucracy. Existing policies and procedures are good for what's now but not often for what's next. The incentive for outliers to innovate is lost when and wherever control is centralized.

2. Arrogance. Insecure leaders view disruption as a threat to power, position, and privilege and see disruptive innovators as foes not friends. Insecurity at the top stifles personal advance, product development, and company growth.

3. Tired Executive Blood. When innovators are marginalized within a system designed to preserve the status quo, managers become the gatekeepers of vision. When people are functioning outside their role preferences, there is high stress, consistent fatigue, and underperformance.

4. Poor Planning. "Effective planning identifies the tools and techniques required to accomplish [specific] tasks and reduces the risk of having unclear roles and responsibilities." Lack of alignment can lead to poor communication and increase risk or minimize return.

5. Short-Term Investment Horizons. A mind-set of scarcity can keep organizations from making quantum leaps or gains. Rather, we should think with a mind-set of abundance and possibilities where the future is concerned. Mark Batterson rightly said: "Don't let your budget determine your vision. Let your vision determine your budget."

Two years later, in a more extensive work on the subject, The Innovator's Dilemma, Christensen added the following to this list: "inadequate skills and resources, and just plain bad luck."

Even with such things in mind, both the article and the book cite a more fundamental and somewhat paradoxical reason that established companies can be disrupted in time: "They stay close to their customers."

Stated another way, a company's current, best, and most loyal customers are typically the primary concern of management. Pleasing these customers by giving them what they want, when they want it, and how they like it is what drives new product investment, development, and services. Thus, dollars (i.e., cost of production), numbers (i.e., units sold), and profits (i.e., return on investment — ROI) become the determining factors for what an established company will do, won't do, and why they do what they do going forward. Thus, "when a technology that has the potential for revolutionizing an industry emerges, established companies typically see it as unattractive: it's not something their mainstream customers want, and its projected profit margins aren't sufficient to cover big company cost structures. As a result, the new technology tends to get ignored in favor of what's currently popular with the best customers." In this way, over time, established companies are "hurt by the very technologies their customers led them to ignore."

Those benefiting most within established systems are often reluctant to recognize that anything is wrong with the status quo or to resource bold new initiatives. There is too much at stake: loss of power, position, and privilege. This is especially true when those promoting disruptive innovation are small in number, marginalized stakeholders, or otherwise seen as outliers by those with more fixed and predictable opinions. The unwillingness of large, established companies to address the future from a present position of strength leads to stagnation, marginalization, irrelevance, and decline. On the flip side, this entrenched position provides motivation for entrepreneurs and innovators to test their theories, incubate original ideas, and establish new products not dependent on current values or realities. Failure on the part of leaders in responsible positions of authority to listen to such people, to not think deeply about what it is they're sensing, or to resource and empower them wherever possible will hurt a company in the long term. It opens the door for disruption.

Opting to work outside, to leave, or otherwise driven out of established companies by the hubris, insecurity, or incompetence of existing leaders, disruptive innovators upend the system and set seismic shift in motion. With an entirely different set of motivations, values, and metrics, they say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done before institutional authorities understand that such things need to be said or done. Thus, disruptive leaders do not co-opt the platform of others; rather, they create their own platforms and compel others to follow their lead, eventually including even those who in the moment do not understand or share their bias. In this way, they speak the future into existence by simplifying complexity, navigating nuance, and articulating the why, what, and way forward for others. Disruptive leaders "make the implicit explicit."


Disruptive Innovation ...

1. Is fueled by a different set of values than those currently understood, affirmed, or appreciated by conventional wisdom.

2. Is measured to be effective by a different set of metrics than those recognized by the current market.

3. Is seen as insignificant, underperforming, and, therefore, nonviable by those in current positions of prominence or power.

4. Is generally cheaper, simpler, smaller, and more user friendly.

5. Is usually commercialized in emerging or seemingly insignificant markets.

6. Is something that leading customers initially don't like, want, appreciate, or know what to do with; that is, why or how it affects them.

7. Is viewed as an irrational investment by established companies and managers averse to risk that prefer to dedicate resources to sustaining innovation (microimprovements) instead.

It takes more than mere words or wishful thinking, however, to advance disruptive innovation. Many well-meaning individuals have tried and failed, but not for the reason you might suspect. Individual failure is most often due to a lack of persistence in the face of inevitable challenges along the way. In short, would-be innovators and entrepreneurs often quit too early, too soon, too tired of overcoming obstacles, of standing up to critique, or of the inevitable rejection of others along the way.

The late Steve Jobs agreed. In creating a disruptive company he called NeXT, Inc., he said the following about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur:

I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You pour so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments and times that most people give up. I don't blame them; it's really tough, and it consumes your life ... unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're [not going] to survive, you're going to give it up. So you['ve] got to have an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right that you're passionate about. Otherwise, you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through; and I think that's half the battle right there.

Disruptive innovators like Steve Jobs don't just speak out about the status quo; they upend it by persisting until what they've seen is confirmed, what they've designed is proven, and what they've done is validated.

10 Signs You're a Disruptive Innovator

1. You've been called "a maverick" by someone to whom you report.

2. You are driven all the more to prove others wrong when they tell you, "It can't be done."

3. You've been fired from a job not because of poor performance but because your drive, innovation, and personality threatened an established leader.

4. You've not been promoted to higher positions of leadership or asked to join governing organizational bodies under whom you've served faithfully, responsibly, and effectively, and the reason given does not make sense; that is, it's spin and everyone knows it.

5. You are not afraid to respectfully question or challenge the thinking of those in authority over you in the presence of others.

6. When given a to-do list, you decide for yourself what really needs to be done, what does not need to be done, how to do some things differently (better, in your mind), and add things to the list, confident that you can justify your decisions if called into question.

7. You have barely begun to implement change, and someone to whom you report suggests you need to slow things down.

8. You will not stop perfecting an idea or something you're working on until you achieve your aim or run out of time. "It's good enough" is not in your lexicon.

9. You suggest new ways of thinking, being, and doing, and others just smile.

10. You've brought a vision to life and stayed with it long enough to hear others say, "I wasn't sure it could be done, but you did it. You proved me wrong."

According to Bower and Christensen, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that few companies are able to overcome the obstacles of size and success, and thus effectively reposition themselves for new opportunities, growth, and future markets. Nevertheless, they believe it can be done and provide several ways by which disruptive innovation can be recognized and nurtured within such contexts.

1. Determine whether the technology is disruptive or sustaining. Most organizations have well-established methods for soliciting feedback, responding to concerns, and maintaining the confidence of their customer base. Rarely, however, do they have similar systems for identifying disruptive innovation. Bower and Christensen suggest one way to do this is to pay attention to internal disagreements between incentivized management and loyal personnel with solid records of accomplishment that persist in championing a new idea. "Disagreement between the two groups often signals a disruptive technology that top-level managers should explore."

2. Define the strategic significance of the disruptive technology. Similarly, most successful organizations know how to ask good questions. "Disruptive technologies tend to stall early in strategic reviews because managers either ask the wrong questions or ask the wrong people the right questions." In other words, like incentivized management, loyal customers are only looking for incremental product improvement so they can stay one step ahead of market trends. In so doing, customers benefiting the most from a current product provide reliably accurate information for sustaining innovation, but they should not be looked to concerning what is next to come.

3. Locate the initial market for the disruptive technology. Typical approaches to market research are not helpful to decision-makers considering the potential for investment in forward-leaning product development. In the moment, a market does not necessarily exist, but it will, and disruptive innovators know it. Bower and Christensen wrote, "When Edwin Land asked Polaroid's market researchers to assess the potential sales of his new camera, they concluded that Polaroid would sell a mere 100,000 cameras over the product's lifetime; few people they interviewed could imagine the uses of instant photography." Similarly, when my wife, Linda, pitched a book titled Mommy, Please Don't Cry to a prominent Christian publisher in 1995, its male-dominated editorial board concluded "grief doesn't sell." With passion and persistence, however, Linda identified the need, knocked on other doors, and helped create market demand for Christ-centered resources, like hers, that offer hope and healing to parents who grieve the loss of a child. Since its publication, more than 100,000 copies of Mommy, Please Don't Cry have been sold.


Excerpted from Disruption by Mark DeYmaz. Copyright © 2017 Mark DeYmaz. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xix

Acknowledgments xxiii

Introduction xxv

Chapter 1 Disrupting Approach 1

Chapter 2 Disrupting Assumptions 31

Chapter 3 Disrupting Church 49

Chapter 4 Disrupting Witness 79

Chapter 5 Disrupting Economics 109

Chapter 6 Disrupting Others 139

Chapter 7 Disrupting Peace 163

Appendix 185

Notes 201

About the Author 217

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