Innovation in Lutheran social ministry organizations

/ 13 May 2009

The Lutheran Services of America (LSA) report of the president was just released, and buried in it are a number of very interesting observations and pointers to things various SMO’s (social ministry organizations) are engaged in. I was particularly interested in these observations:

A core feature of the Aging in Community Initiative (ACI) was the exploration of open source methodology, which originated in the computer sciences and only recently is being applied to the social sciences. In the open source framework, proprietary concerns and traditional top-down structures are set aside so that a more grassroots collaborative energy can bubble up. Embracing these ideas, ACI project participants have grown into a community where they feel empowered to share deeply and openly, including their financial and business models as well as their program strengths and weaknesses, in the service of collaborative innovation.


As the use of e-tools for advocacy evolves, LSA is using teleconferences and conference breakout sessions to teach SMOs how to make good use of this technology. Perhaps most importantly, LSA uses these tools in its own work, providing a place for SMOs to learn right along with LSA staff. LSA members are following LSA and LSA-DN on Twitter for updates on legislation. They are being encouraged to use short videos for advocacy, and they are active participants on the LSA Disabilities Network Ning advocacy site. The LSA Public Policy Advocacy Toolkit is being updated to include social media tools and will be posted on the LSA website as a free resource.


Luther Snow ... used an asset mapping approach to launch the Porcupine Project aimed at gathering SMOs and congregations in an online community to share, explore and experiment together. The sessions were well-attended and well-received and staff continues to experiment with ways to keep the project moving forward.


A reference to this paper, “working wikily: how networks are changing social change.”