Church in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt

Over the past month I have finished a few books, one of which was Church in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt. I like Doug and his work that he has done in the past, especially his book on preaching. This book was great; taking a look at how the church has adapted to the social change of American culture. I’m writing some highlights in here for my personal cloud of information.

Agrarian Age- rural location, outlook of dependence, success was survival, relationships were tribal or single, church was parish in culture, and the church leader was a shepherd.

Industrial Age- urban location, outlook of dominance, success of repeatability, relationships were ‘side-by-side’, church culture was the emergence of denominations, and the church leader was a preacher.

Information Age- Suburban in context, outlook was characterized by dissection, success was expertise, relationships were ubiquitous, church serves as a learning center, and church leader is a teacher, primarily.

Inventive Age- global in location, outlook is discovery, success is creativity-based, relationships are more plural, church serves as a co-op, and the church leader is a facilitator.

Components that make up culture are separated into 4 categories:

1. Head- thinking

2. Heart- values

3. Gut- aesthetics

4. Hands- tools

Ideas are in combination of head and heart

Objects are in the combination of gut and hands

There are tensions (hybrids) in our church culture: Evangelical/Pentecostal (Ideas) and Denominational/Mainline (Objects)

Being an Inventive Age church

1. Trying new things, all of the time (it can be frustrating, but it is necessary to continue to create)

2. Bilingual in approach- speaking both of ancient practices and the language of the virtual environment.

3. Make room- Christianity is sharing from one another (Phyllis Tickle- Great Emergence) we need to make room to serve and worship along with one another.

4. Look ahead- don’t be tempted to fix problems from the past, look ahead. (100)

5. Curate the past- I sense of tension here between worshipping the past or completely ignoring it. We need to bring the past with us into a new age. (101)

6. Major on the Minors

7. Focus on Meaning- a hip church may miss the essence of having any meaning. Discover meaning in what we do.

8. They don’t know who will show up- we make a mistake when we are sure of our target audience. The more I talk to pastors, the more I hear that they intended on reaching people x and they ended up reaching people y, instead.

9. They are organic- we cannot force creativity but create avenues for it to come alive.

10. Use the tools that are necessary- don’t assume that the prescribed tools for successful churches (web presence, facebook, etc) will be the tools needed for each individual congregation. Use what is… useful.


Great book. Quick read. Watch for Community in the Inventive Age and Preaching in the Inventive Age coming in the Fall.


Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

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