Seth Godin's Changemaker Triangle
The Changemaker’s Triangle
Seth Godin, internet theorist and marketing author, recently wrote on his blog about the Changemaker’s Triangle in his usual succinct way. Here’s the summary section:
Editor, publisher, instigator.
– The instigator is the author, the dreamer, the writer…
– The editor curates….
– And the publisher scales it…
Do you see it? How simple that is and yet how applicable to many professions and passions, including pastors!
It strikes me that pastors may find themselves in all three areas of the triangle, but I think living more fully into one of them may lead to personal and communal transformation.
Pastors as Instigators
The first side of the triangle is the Instigator. Here’s Seth Godin’s description:
The instigator is the author, the dreamer, the writer. She creates a screenplay, founds a non-profit, says what needs to be said.
Casting a vision for communal and personal transformation is the craft of most pastors. But this also includes the very person “calling” discernment for pastors to see if they are called to this work of proclamation and ordering a faith community.
Pastors as Editors
The second side of the triangle is the Editor, as described by Godin:
The editor curates. Picks and chooses. Amplifies the essential and deletes the rest.
I see this in two areas of pastoring:
- The sermon writing process, as we cobble together myriad sources to form a public narrative.
- The ministry leadership process, as we balance volunteer energies, funds, and the community context to see what a church is doing when.
Pastors as Publishers
Finally, the third side of the triangle is the Publisher. Godin:
And the publisher scales it. Turns it into a business or a success on some other metric.
For many pastors, this is the preaching moment, but it can be all forms of final church communication of values, missions, and ministries in alignment with one another.
Is the goal to be all three?
To be part of the Changemaker’s Triangle, we might wonder if the goal is to become amazing at all three: instigator, editor, publisher. Indeed, someone like Steve Jobs was all three: a creator of new products, editor of them down to essentials (he retooled the iPhone shortly before release to make a single button click better), and the publisher of the Reality Distortion Field to sell them.
Ultimately, each side of the Changemaker’s Triangle is the work of proclamation for pastors:
- We discern a message or motivation instigated by the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
- We compile the best of scripture, science, story, church history, and personal experience into an effective form.
- We take the individual work to the community, publishing that inspired compilation as sermons, made later into videos, podcasts, blogs, and perhaps books.
While proclamation is all three sides, there’s no reason they all have to be settled around one person. A good team can spread out this work amidst 3 or more people who inhabit different sides of the triangle better.
But there’s also the long-term factor. Every church that has been around longer than a generation, or has had multiple pastors, has in its DNA different leaders with different abilities and perspectives they have absorbed. So a single leader could capitalize on the existing sides of the triangle that other pastors have curated and fit their preferred side alongside the established strengths.
Every pastor probably thinks they are supposed to be best at Publishing, at the preaching moment continually refined to reach more and more audiences.
Probably most want to be known for Instigating, casting an original vision that leads the people to something new.
But I’m firmly in the less sexy Editor camp. I love crafting proclamations that draw from multiple sources, secular and churchy, and I continuously work to be informed by persons of color and from other cultures than my own. On this blog, I love boiling down complex ecclesial conflicts into digestible conversations. And I love committee work: doing the “behind the scenes” editing that presents opportunities that match our narrative to our community and congregation.
Living into my side of the Triangle—and knowing it—allows me to reach beyond myself to the congregation and community for their leadership in Instigating and Publishing (as well as Editing the Editor—readers of this blog invariably correct my grammar!).
I hope you know your own strength as well! Post it in the comments.
- where do you see pastors on the Changemaker’s Triangle?
- If you are not the pastor but are part of a faith community, where is your role on the Triangle?
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing on social media.