When Bobby Gruenewald first visited LifeChurch.tv—it's a real church whose name only looks like a website—in Edmond, Oklahoma, the most evolved technology he encountered was air conditioning. And even that was unreliable. Before the whir of servers and megawatt projectors and Gruenewald's current staff title as "innovation leader," the church met in a two-car garage and had dial-up Internet access. Even then, Gruenewald says, he had a passion for the gospel that remains decibels louder than any high-tech evangelism method employed by the church today. A self-proclaimed "adrenaline junkie," Gruenewald initially resisted the church's invitation to join its leadership team for fear of boredom. But after volunteering in technological and musical capacities at the church, he decided to sell two web start-ups from his entrepreneurial days and in 2001 signed on to a role—which includes co-leading a congregation of nearly 30,000 at 14 U.S. campuses—that he says is far from boring.
Gruenewald, recently named one of the top 100 creative people in business by Fast Company, has led leading-edge ventures at LifeChurch.tv such as online church services and YouVersion, a free Bible app with over 30 million downloads. But the high-tech world is tangential, says Gruenewald. "Technology is not vital to the church, but an amazing tool for encouraging vitality."
What's an "innovation leader"?
It's a very eclectic role, really not that far off from being an entrepreneur. I'm constantly focused on coming up with new ways of building momentum and helping connect people within the church. On a strategic level, I evaluate the effectiveness of each idea, ...1
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