Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Profitable Ideas

I know it's not necessarily a good thing to be stubborn, but sometimes it pays off.

I experienced that last one this last week when I discovered that a couple in my church had purchased a new television stand for a large and awkward television that we had. Until this point, we rested the TV up on two small chairs which were already on top of a table, so the new TV stand was a welcome addition, one that I didn't even know was coming until I found out that we couldn't use it. The couple had assembled the stand in one of our little classrooms, but when they went to wheel it out into the main room in the basement, they discovered that it couldn't fit through the door frame. They tried everything: removing the door, pushing it through, twisting it and turning it from every angle, but it just wouldn't go. It was too big... by about 1 centimeter.

Now as a preacher, I love to hear things like that, "Oh? It was too big by 1 centimeter? That seems like such a small minor difference, but it's enough to hinder you from your goal... kind of like being on the straight and narrow path!" Analogies would have abounded from that point, except, I decided to give it a try to get it through the door. I assume I tried all the same moves that the couple had first tried, to the same result. Then one of my members came over and jokingly mocked me saying, "You can't get it through that door." Since I've been watching a lot of the television show "How I Met Your Mother," my response to that was, "Challenge Accepted!"

Another woman saw my struggle to try to jam it through the door and believed we could find some way to get it through. After about 5 minutes, we made major progress. Our list of accomplishments now stood at

1.) We have jammed the television stand in the door, making the doorway impassable.
2.) The woman helping me was stuck in the room.


Well now I really had to make something happen, so I crawled over the TV stand and put myself in the room which I will now refer to as "Mount Doom" as it where this television stand was forged (or at least assembled). The woman and I pushed-- it didn't budge. We got a hammer from the other side and started pounding-- it didn't budge. I leaned all my weight on it-- nothing. I took a running start and lunged into the stand-- still nothing.

At this point, I was started to get nervous... is downsizing your available classroom space by 33% and depleting the churches resources by an additional 1 television stand a fireable offense?

My next attempt to get it to move was to try to wiggle it free... that still didn't work. I laid on my back, drew back both of my legs, and sprung them both out as hard as I could, directly on the bottom of the stand, not thinking that if the stand didn't move, I could probably seriously injure myself. Thankfully, the stand gave a little and I heard cries of delight from the crowd which had now gathered around to see the spectacle that was the "preacher vs. the television stand."

"DO THAT AGAIN!!! YAY ADAM! YOU'RE AWESOME!" (I'm sure that's what they said)

So I kicked again, this time at the top of the television stand, and it simply popped out with minimal damage to the door or the stand. Amazingly, no one was hurt, and perhaps even more amazingly, I didn't even gloat... I was just so glad to get out of Mt. Doom!

My stubbornness got the best of me, and then I supposed I got the best of the television stand. But I got to thinking about that, and about some experiences that I have had in my life before. I realized that, in churches today, we tend to hear "No" a lot more than we hear "Yes;" we hear "You can't" rather than "You can." And even a stubborn mule like me tends to get beaten down after hearing "No" too many times. We need to get away from that.

I'm an advocate that individuals, small groups, ministries, churches, and the entire body of Christ should have a direction in which they're moving, but many of those entities don't. I'm very grateful that my church doesn't say "No" outright very often. Sometimes I get a "Let's wait" but very rarely do I receive a "No." When I got to First Christian Church at Culpeper, we didn't have much of a direction, and we're still defining what that direction is fully, but now we have one, and we're a stronger church for it.

As Christians, I think we should all examine ourselves and look for where our lives are heading. If you can't find a direction that you're heading toward, pray to God for ways that you might be able to impact His Kingdom. Think back to passions that you once had, or things that you wanted to see, when someone told you "No," and try to implement it.

That being said, I don't think we need to swing completely in the other direction and just say yes to any idea that comes along. Here's a list of unfinished criteria that I've thought up for "Acceptable ideas"... do you have any other suggestions?

  • An acceptable idea should never contradict anything the Bible has forbidden.
  • An acceptable idea should be profitable for the Kingdom of God.
  • An acceptable idea should have a clearly defined direction, with observable benchmarks.
  • An acceptable idea should not utilize a ridiculous amount of church resources, including time, money, and manpower, unless the church leadership specifically encourages this.
  • An acceptable idea, if given the chance to succeed, should be graciously retracted if it doesn't work out.