Unless you’re an economics major, chances are that you’ve never heard the term “creative destruction”.
The term originated in the 1940s by economist Joseph Schumpeter, who described it as the “process of
industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly
destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new structure. “ From a purely economic perspective,
Schumpeter declared that creative destruction is “the essential fact about capitalism.”
It’s the capitalism part that has frightened away many of us from considering the process with respect to
outreach. After all, the words “outreach” and “destruction” would appear to be an unfortunate
combination indicating something gone horribly wrong, like chaperoning a bus full of middle school boys
on a youth group road trip. Been there and done that. But could it be viewed positively as a means for
something becoming wonderfully fresh?
Take for example the biblical concept of pruning in Jesus’ teaching on the Vine and the branches in John 15:12: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Jesus is clearly not offering a lesson on capitalism. What He is offering is a lesson on bearing much fruit through a process that involves creative destruction, a.k.a. pruning.
We shouldn’t run from creative destruction, we should embrace it as a potential avenue leading to
things we may never before have imagined. In terms of what this looks like in pursuit of Christ-centered
culture change, it means we must be willing to ask probing questions and adopt a higher plane of vision.
Do we do the things we do because it’s the way we’ve always done them, or because they are actually
working”? What are the solid measurements to define what “works” and what doesn’t? Or the harder
question: do we need to let go of something else to make room for something better? That’s tough,
especially when the “something else” is comfortable, or familiar, or safe.
These questions are particularly key to a post-Roe culture in which a cultural tipping point has not yet been reached by either side of the abortion debate.
Enter Charles Koch’s book The Science of Success. Koch wasn’t known for social outreach, he’s was
known for business. But when someone has achieved as much success as Koch, it’s a good bet there are
nuggets waiting to be gleaned from a book detailing the keys to that success. And sure enough, creative
destruction is right there in the mix. Can this process be useful in finding better solutions to making the
world a better place for moms and babies?
Creative destruction is pruning for growth. Pruning means something is cut. But not indiscriminately.
Watch someone who really knows their gardening and you’ll see pruning executed with surgical
precision. You’ll also see a close examination of each plant and each branch before a single cut is made.
The purpose is not to whack away at the plant just because it exists–the purpose is to bear more
flowers, more fruit, more growth. Slashing an outreach at the root just because it’s the
re is unwise and unhealthy; careful evaluation before any decision regarding existing and potential outreach is prudent.
For anyone working to promote compassion for both moms and babies, including unborn babies, we can find usefulness in the process of creative destruction by constantly asking: could we do this better? Are there systems and filters that need to be pruned or eliminated for new growth? Are we stumbling through our own ragged cutting with fearfully dull blades, or are we looking for where the Master gardener is already at work? Are we allowing ourselves to be pruned in order to produce more fruit? Are we making ourselves and our outreaches wide open to God’s creative destruction? Or do we too often settle for: “we’ve always done it this way”, or, “this is what every one else is doing.”
Tough questions. How we answer them means the world to those we are working to protect.