Author Archives: Peter Armstrong

Built for Change

Built for Change – by Steve Taylor

Book Review

By Peter Armstrong

What better place to read Steve Taylor’s newest book “Built for Change” than at a Downhill Mountain Bike Competition. Over the last 5-10 years ‘DH’ing’ (as it’s known) has been a significant innovation from the standard Road Bike racing and Cross Country Bike events that have been around for ages.

Innovation is what Steve’s book is all about.

Innovation, collaboration and leadership!

The sub-title of the book is ‘…a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership’ and it is very much born out of Steve’s own work and ministry in this area. Even the book itself is somewhat innovative in the way it is set out, beginning with the ‘final chords’ of an outro and concluding with an intro. Within the metaphor of music Steve takes the reader on a journey that he himself has travelled, into the experiences, observations and reflections of collaborative innovation in the context of leadership.

The three parts of his book (between the ‘Outro’ and the ‘Intro’) are (i) Leading Outward; (ii) Leading Deeply; and (iii) Leading Inward. Each part offers differing ways of looking into innovation, collaboration and leadership. Steve offers a biblical framework from 1 Corinthians 3 and 4 looking at six roles and actions – Servant (Listens); Gardener (Plants); Builder (Structures); Managers (Resource); Fools (Risk); and Parents (Guide). He tells the story of experiences on the ground of innovation, collaboration and leadership – both observed as well as engaged. He opens up a theology of connection where leadership theory can converse with theology. And he reflects on tradition as it provides the historical context and cultural values of innovation, collaboration and leadership within institutions and communities. The final section looks at the leader personally, and again from practice and principles, Steve offers wisdom and encouragement for anyone on this journey themselves.

I found this an incredibly helpful book in that it captures wonderings and provides ways to both reflect on and engage my own sense of call to these areas. It is easy to read, in that it is accessible in its form and language, but it is substantial because, for me, it has generated so much more wondering and visioning for what is ahead for me and the church that I call home. I certainly would recommend “Built for Change” to anyone who is wondering or seeking to practice ‘fresh words and deeds’ in this time when innovation, collaboration and leadership have much to offer our church and wider community. Thanks Steve for taking the time to put all of this into a book for others to glean.

Rev Dr Steve Taylor – Steve speaks across a range of denominations and countries in areas of innovation, missiology and being church today. He joined Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in 2015 as Principal, after serving as Director of Missiology, Post-graduate Coordinator and Principal of Uniting College for Leadership and Theology in Adelaide, Australia. He is married to Lynne Taylor and they enjoy two teenagers and the beauty of Otago Peninsula.



Thinking about innovation and new things…wondering about dying

Some interesting thoughts from the opposite place to innovation…

(and from other sectors…)

Ready for mission…maybe???

Some more re-reading old notes…

From…Dicker, G. Ministerial Education Commission: Consultation of Theological Educators Theological Education for Ministry in the 21st Century – Responding to Change: 9-13 July 1995, Hartzer Park, Bowral

p.2.      “…At this consultation we sensed a common acceptance of that fact that radical change may be called for. These may include beginning theological education pre-candidature, different ways of integrating practice with the acquiring of necessary knowledge and skills, a continuation of mandatory education and formation programs into the first settlement, to cite but a few examples…”

p.2.      “…Major changes to the way we go about theological education may pose a challenge to arrangements we have with ecumenical consortia and universities. While we greatly value these arrangements we will need to see that they do not stand in the way of changes we deem necessary on pedagogical and ecclesial grounds…”

p.1-9.   “…Commenting on their training for mission UCA college graduates said they were prepared – 46% very poorly (35% all denominations graduates),36% basic outline (41%), 12% not at all (11%), 6% (13%) very well…”

Re-reading notes

A good reminder…

“…ministry is not fundamentally a profession; it is a function in the body of believers” p.20

Villafane, E. et al Transforming the City – Reframing Education for Urban Ministry William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2002.


Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning continual adjustment – innovation – improvement. I think this should be part of the thinking and practice of the church in regards to mission :: leadership :: innovation. Keep looking for Kaizen…

"Kaizen-2" by Majo statt Senf - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Kaizen-2” by Majo statt Senf – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Drivers and Markers…more than golf…

Just put together a visual of what might be the drivers and markers of pioneering mission – innovation. In regards to golf you hit the ball between the markers with a driver and maybe this is a bit like pioneering…between/amongst some markers you hit off with a driver. e.g. a driver may be a new/innovative worship service but you hit this off amongst new pastoral care and discipleship OR you connect with a new group of people and seek to share in pastoral care with them but you do this amongst new ways to disciple or do some prophetic action in the community. In other words you have a driver but you also need to connect with the other markers/drivers.

Missional drivers and markers

Missional drivers and markers