Researchers in Sweden have found a link between kids who get in trouble and kids who grow up to become entrepreneurs.
Specifically, they’ve found a link between people who are mischievous, as opposed to law-breakers, and those who grow up to disrupt the marketplace.
The authors of the recent entrepreneurship study plotted those activities against the likelihood that the kids would, as adults, start their own businesses. The result: More than factors like intelligence, creativity, and the parents’ socio-economic status, delinquent behavior predicted adult entrepreneurship. The authors argue that the findings support something called the “unruliness hypothesis,” the idea that the same restlessness, impatience, and allergy to authority that leads a kid to cut school and get high also leads him to start a photo-sharing network.
The Problem of Nice Church Kids
It’s been well-docmented that the church has a “nice” problem. Whereas the New Testament documents a group of rebels who reached the world by sticking it to the man, today’s church tends to weed those people out. The rebellious kids rarely stick around for the long haul to become the pain-in-the-butt senior pastor.
Heck, the rebellious tend to leave as soon as they get a drivers license. “The church is for people who like to sit and sing and listen. That’s too boring for me.” It doesn’t take long for a 15 year old to look at the church and realize that the local church is not leading them towards Nero’s lions. We’re too careful for chubby bunny, much less lions!
Church leadership tends to attract compliant, team players
About 3 years into my training at Moody I realized that one of their goals was to force me to submit. If I didn’t play their game I wouldn’t walk across that stage to graduate. It didn’t matter how stupid or how unbiblical some of their program was, it didn’t matter that I could prove it– all that mattered was your compliance: A not-so-subtle hint of things to come.
Of course, Moody isn’t alone. I have many friends who had to learn this in order to get ordained by their denomination. It’s easy to turn your nose up at a place like Moody and say, “How could you go to a school that made you wear a collared shirt to class or didn’t allow you to go to movies?” But mainline denominations have their own hang-ups, like forcing you to go through training you’ll never use or take classes from a denominational school you don’t like.
It all teaches the same thing: Comply. Submit. Bow your head. Don’t take risks.
And it weeds out the rebellious. The risk-taker. Left brain wins over right brain almost every time.
People who become pastors read way more books about risk-taking than live a risk-taking life worth writing a book about.
Consequently, when people in the pews look at the lifestyle and personality of an officially recognized leader, that’s what they pick-up. “Oh, if I want to be _____, I need to act like _____.”
The church needs disruption!
In the marketplace, when an entrepreneur pushes a new idea into an existing market, that’s called disruption. It’s rebellious. It’s risky. Most ideas don’t survive. But those who do change the entire game.
In reality, there’s virtually no disruption in the church today. Here are three disruptive things I can point to in the past 25 years.
- Small group ministry – Believe it or not, there was tons of resistance to small groups.
- Purpose-Driven Life – (and to a smaller extent, Purpose-Driven Church) Rick Warren’s books created a wave of disruption many ministries are still riding.
- The justice movement – Before International Justice Mission (and a pile of others) emerged, the evangelical church had no voice in areas of justice.
But, if we’re honest, there’s not a lot of disruption going on in the church. There’s a ton of soft innovation, but not a lot of disruption.
The question is: As a church leader, are you fostering an environment that cultivates critical thought? That runs with the wild ideas of the maverick?
Or are you pushing them away? Are you subtly telling them to take their risky preferences elsewhere? (Which might actually be creating disruption when those people come back with an attitude!)