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Brian Frick is the Associate for Camp and Conferences Ministries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has been involved in camp and conference ministry since high school. For the past ten years, Brian has served as program director of Johnsonburg Center in New Jersey, Westminster Woods in California, and Heartland Center in Missouri.

Camp and conference ministry compliments and partners with other ministry aspects of our church to foster faith development and reflection. As our communities and our church changes, our ministries need to grow and adapt with creative and emergent programming and leadership to meet new realities.

These blogs entries, though varied, are intended to spur thought and conversation around the opportunities and challenges before us.

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May 13, 2010

The price of success - failures...

Light-bulbMy son has been studying famous inventors in 4th grade this year and of course Thomas Edison was high on the list.  He had great joy in telling me all the things that Edison invented - he was prolific.  He went on to tell me something that has stuck with me - Ewan (my son) shared that Edison tried over 400 different times to make the light bulb work before he finally woke up in the middle of the night with the answer that would create light from electricity and forever change our world.  400 times!  Edison, the father of invention, failed 400 times on just one of his inventions!  How could he handle that?  Aren't we supposed to run from failure?
Another interesting fact I gathered at a conference a few years back on innovation stated that for every "Barbie" (or Cabbage Patch Doll, etc.) that the toy industry makes, there are 7 other toys marketed that are complete failures never to be heard from again.  Expanding on that, the presenter shared that the toy industry works on the premise that for every 3 successful toy launches, there will be 7 failures.  So 30% is success?
Turn that to baseball - a batter with a .300 batting average or higher is praised and cherished!  That means that the batter is successful at getting on base 3 our of 10 times - 30% is success.  (I wish I could have shared that with my calculus teacher in college...)
So what faithful failures have you experienced in your life?  In your ministry?  At your center? 

In a time of limited resources, we try harder and harder to get "the right" program, idea, initiative, etc - and when it doesn't work - we are crushed and disheartened by all that we put into a failure.  We should celebrate!  We are one failure closer to a great success!  We should be working hard to launch 10 faithful (caution - great ideas, using limited resources wisely...) new initiatives instead of one!  Then let the failures go and grow the successes!

Share this with your leadership team, your summer staff, your board of directors.  What do they have to share?  I bet you will learn a lot of them have had failures they learned from and propelled them forward.

The following is a link to an article forwarded to me by a friend.  It is also very insightful into the same dialog.

Robin Sharma Articles | Fail Faster.