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Don't Fear Failure

The CEO of Google just recently announce that one of their latest innovations, Google Wave, has been a failure.  This post does not intend to discuss the merits or shortcomings of Google's ambitious attempt to change email as we knew it, but rather I think Google response to the situation is a good platform to talk about FAILURE.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article about Google's latest announcement.
"Our policy is we try things," the Google CEO said, hours after the company announced it was halting development of the complex real-time communication tool. "We celebrate our failures. This is a company where it is absolutely OK to try something that is very hard, have it not be successful, take the learning and apply it to something new."
Google wasn't afraid to fail, in fact they were willing to invest a lot of time, energy and money to risk on something new.

Here are a couple of lessons I think the church can learn from Google's example:

Be Willing to Create a Risk-taking Culture - Make it clear to your staff and your volunteers that innovation and taking risks is not only encouraged but celebrated.  Let people know that failure is inevitable when a church steps out in faith to invest in new ideas.  But also remind them that failure isn't fatal.  Just like Google, who is trying to learn from the failure and who also is taking the best ideas of Google Wave and utilizing them in other applications - we need to do the same with our church.  Sometimes a failure doesn't mean the whole idea was bad, maybe it was bad timing, or bad execution, or bad planning.  Creating this kind of culture within your church can't just be mere words, you must back it up - which means the leaders need to be the biggest innovators and risk takers.

Be Willing to Risk Time, Energy, Manpower and Money to an Idea - It is not enough for a church to generate new ideas, you've got to be willing to leverage the needed resources to make sure the idea has a chance for success.  To many times, ideas just remain ideas...they never move effectively into the implementation stage.  They never translate into any tangible outcomes or results - therefore leaving a lot of ideas simply to fail because they died on the vine.

Don't be Afraid to Admit Failure - to often the church is afraid to admit failure - because of what we fear others might think (i.e. were we listening to God properly when we moved forward?)  Because we won't admit failure we're then tempted to merely continue to do the same thing again and again even though it is giving us failing results.  I remember a couple of years ago when Willow Creek and Bill Hybels admitted publicly that they made a mistake on one of their biggest ministry assumptions for their church.  A lot of people piled criticism upon them, but I was impressed by their humility and willingness to step out faith and risk failure rather than not to step out at all - as well as their willingness to whiteboard and rethink the issue when they released it had failed.


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