Rev Dr Steve Taylor’s latest book explores the practical theology of innovation with a focus on collaboration and leadership. Rev Peter Armstrong reviews.
What better place to read Rev Dr Steve Taylor’s latest book Built for Change than at a Downhill Mountain Bike Competition. Over the last five to ten years DHing (aka “downhilling”) 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.
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.
The book’s subtitle 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 “Leading Outward”, “Leading Deeply” and “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 their actions: the 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 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 Peter Armstrong
Rev Peter Armstrong is the minister at the Uniting Church in the Samford Valley, and is currently doing post-graduate studies in innovation, leadership and mission.