Laggards or Skeptics

Section Six: Laggards or Skeptics

Pastor: There’s a light bulb burnt out in the sanctuary. Can you help?

Laggard: After a while, the truly faithful really begin to sense God at work in the dark. Perhaps God prefers the dark. When God wants a new bulb, He will change it Himself. Stop interfering with the will of the Lord with your devilish desire to change everything!


A. Rogers considers Laggards, the last 16% to adopt, to be traditional and possess almost no opinion leadership. Their awareness is so localized as to almost be an isolate in the system and they tend to communicate only with other Laggards. Their point of reference is their own past experience, which they repeat without contemplation. This caution prevents problems that drain resources from being addressed, so Laggards rarely have resources to take chances; their caution is a matter of survival.[1]

B. It is important not to demonize Laggards; they will always be with us. Laggards function not only as defenders but as visionaries of the status quo. Laggards can serve to stabilize a system and have the ministry of preserving homeostasis. Once an innovation is adopted, Laggards preserve it in the system as “the way we have always done it here.” Laggards can provide a necessary balance, slowing changes that might have negative consequences or lead to chaos. Unforseen problems can arise which make the innovation far worse than the original problem; now the innovation is the primary problem of the culture.[2]

[1]I question Rogers’ general negativity on Laggards. Naturally conservative, Laggards are likely to conserve financial resources in an age of rampant consumerism. Laggards naturally consider most innovations pointless and prefer to live as they always have lived. This is a matter of healthy differentiation at best. Rogers has a bias due to his research choice of unquestionably beneficial innovations. This leads to negative view of Late Adopters and Laggards as people with “no money, no power, no influence.” But Innovators are not always powerful, wealthy, or wise and innovations such as tattoos and body piercing are not universally accepted. Criminals, drug users, terrorists, and revolutionaries bring changes that no laggard prefers.

[2]Missionary gifts of steel axes to the Yir Yiront tribe destroyed the cultural balancing process and led to a breakdown in social relationships, disrespect for elders and men “prostituting their daughters and wives in exchange for the use of someone else’s steel ax.” Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations,


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