Research and design firms all over the world show evidence that innovation happens through a planned process. After looking at a number of these processes, we discovered that, to some extent, they parallel the consensus model of practical theology. We merged the best elements of these design thinking processes with the consensus model to create a robust and workable Theological Ideation Process for the purpose of ministry with young people. Our Theological Ideation Process has five steps:
What’s going on here? What is the problem you want to address. Immerse yourself in the environment and demographic you’ll be designing for. Observe, engage, and interact. Record data as you gather intel to identify possible problems or opportunities you might miss at first glance. This is a fire-hydrant stage of intake and intel.
Why is this happening? With all this intel, you’ll have all sorts of ideas about why things are happening. But you will work to uncover the real underlying reasons behind the issue at hand. Then, redefine the problem that you want to address.
What should be happening? Guided by theology, you will establish parameters for solutions to your problem even as you trust the Holy Spirit to expand your imagination.
What could we do? Intentional brainstorming sessions will create a broad scope of ideas to solve your problem. You will then narrow down to a handful of ideas, and store the rest for later. You will begin to test out parts of your Big Idea in small ways, to gain further insight to its viability. Prototyping requires adaptability, and failing in small ways at this stage means you won’t fail big later on.
What will we do? What is next? In light of your theological parameters and what you’ve learned from prototyping, you will implement your Big Idea full-scale.