A friend sent a link to a story from a book called Making Paper Airplanes. There’s a short video of a 6th grade class who studied aerodynamics and was then challenged to make paper airplanes and see which went the farthest. The winner was a kid who employed out-of-the-box thinking. I won’t spoil it for you–it’s a 6-minute video you can see here. It reminded me of two things I saw on TV growing up. Both represented out-of-the-box thinking, one planned by the shows’ producers and one unplanned.
The first was a show-ending challenge on Beat the Clock. A couple, wielding one stick each had to stack up three milk cartons (rectangular solids). One carton was standing up to start. Week after week, no one could stand the other two upright, pick them up and put them on top of each other in the time allotted. Finally, a couple started by knocking over the standing carton. Then they simply lined up the three cartons on the table, then stood them all upright at once. It was the “school solution,” but it was the only thing that worked. For the contestants, it required out-of-the-box thinking.
The other was on another game show, and a lady could receive up to 500 silver dollars in increments of 100 if she could lift the bucket they were in and put it on a higher shelf. The bucket was designed with a vertical handle, and the starting position was higher than a normal table. I’m sure the producers, choosing a woman, figured the most that she could lift was 200 silver dollars. The lady was a single mother and needed the money. She let all 500 silver dollars go into the bucket. When she tried to lift the bucket in the prescribed way she couldn’t. But she needed the money! So she finally realized that by putting her elbow into the bucket before grasping the vertical handle, she could lift the bucket out. The emcee mumbled, “Well done. That’s not what we had in mind!”
So winning by creative, out-of-the-box thinking is the theme.
Where do we need to apply this? Where does the church need to apply this? It seems counter-intuitive to get bigger by thinking smaller, but that’s what needs to happen. For most pastors, it’s way out-of-the-box. Instead they work on streamlining their services, making them the best they can be. Now I’m not against well-done Sunday services. I know some churches who do Sunday very well. But a good Sunday service, even the best Sunday service, won’t get the job done. Jesus had some pretty spectacular services. He fed over 5,000 people at one of them! But we’re here, following Jesus today, because he invested in 12 men only and told them to reproduce what they had experienced. A non-spectacular, and by today’s practices, an out-of-the-box ministry.