At innoFaith, one of our goals is to bridge faith communities to the social innovation ecosystem - the universe of non-profits, start-ups, education institutions, companies, government bodies, and others who are developing, studying, implementing new responses to persistent social problems. And vice versa. But for many in institutions and communities of faith, social innovation is a new term, even if not a new concept. … Both charity and advocacy approaches are essential to social change work, but what if there were a narrative that could free us from the limits of charity, on the one hand, and ideology, on the other? That is the potential of social innovation.
On January 29th, in the midst of a DC snowstorm, an interfaith, intergenerational group of friends and strangers gathered at Church of the Holy City to talk about the power of young people to lead change. Along with co-hosts Peace First, FaithJustice Foundation, and the Swedenborg Center, we were thrilled to welcome Eric Dawson, Founder and CEO of Peace First and author of Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World, and Yasmine Arrington, Peace First Fellow and Founder and Executive Director of ScholarCHIPS, to share their wisdom.
LinkedIn recently published 50 Big Ideas for 2019: What to watch in the year ahead. The list is full of interesting predictions regarding the economy, workforce, tech, leadership, and a couple on social movements. Underlying many of the predictions are issues of values, ethics, and inclusion. As society seeks better solutions to the challenges that confront us - climate change, the potential effects of artificial intelligence, inequality, political polarization, shifting workforce trends, and more - what role will faith communities and institutions play? And what would these predictions look like if offered by faith leaders rather than business leaders? We’re going to find out in the coming weeks by seeking the input of our network. We’ll report back on what we hear, but in the meantime, here are a few recent faith trends that we expect will continue to grow in 2019.
It’s hard to walk around Washington, DC, these days without finding a church that has been or is in the process of being converted into luxury condos. In a city struggling to provide enough affordable housing and other services to keep its lower income residents, the idea of community institutions being turned into housing for the wealthy can be discouraging, to say the least. And DC is not alone. … Fortunately, various groups are emerging to re-imagine the problem and find solutions.
Impact investing, the practice of leveraging private capital for social and environmental gains by making investments that produce social and environmental returns in addition to financial returns, has gained significant steam in the last several years. It has also begun to make inroads into the investment and mission strategies of faith-based institutions and investors.
For millennia, faith traditions have been innovating, adapting worship, theology, and social engagement to bring God to the people of different eras in a changing world and to meet the social needs of the times. Yet how rarely we talk about innovation as faith communities. We tend to consider it a value and expertise of the business or technology sectors, sectors we also tend to view with some skepticism. But the world is changing more rapidly than ever before, and the challenges driving social needs today are becoming more complex. We can’t afford not to talk about this. And, well, innovate accordingly.
We are living through a tectonic shift in power dynamics. With the evolution of digital technology and globalization, people all over the world have access to information and opportunity at an unprecedented scale. The promise and potential of a world where power can no longer be monopolized by an elite few is thrilling for the possibilities it creates for greater equality. But what might be lost in the process? In the era of networks, do institutions still have a role to play? Greg Jones at Duke Divinity School has been exploring the potential of Christian social innovation and the questions it surfaces.