When Joshua was little, his Aunt & Uncle bought him a big blue tub of Legos. There were all kinds of cool things in it, and he thoroughly enjoyed making all kinds of wonderful things.
One evening we were walking through a local toy store and found the Lego section. There we discovered all the great innovations in Legos beyond the usual assorted blocks. There were kits you could buy which had exactly enough of the precise blocks you needed to build whatever was on the kit. Pretty cool. So we bought Josh a few for his upcoming birthday.
It worked pretty well for a day or so. We built the kits and he had fun with them. Then he decided to disassemble them. Now all the neatly sorted and assembled parts got mixed in with all the other bazillion Legos he had. Now it was virtually impossible to recombine the parts back in the precise order like before when it was just the kit.
Same thing happened with the Bionicles. Bionicles are cool–you get a can of Legos that all combine to build this really cool space creature. And with Bionicles, even the parts are interchangeable between the kits, so you can combine the arms from one with the torso from another with the legs from a third and the head from a fourth and get a really cool hybrid creature. But……after a few weeks and the mystique dims, they get disassembled and integrated in with all the other Lego parts.
Maybe some kids (or their OCD parents!) keep all their various Legos sorted into bins. Maybe by color or size or number of lugs. Maybe by the kit they came with, or they put the parts of the Bionicle back into its very own can. But not at our house. All the parts go together, because this way it provides a greater number of creative possibilities when we go to make something new.
I guess this means we’re not Lego purists. God bless those who are. We aren’t, and probably aren’t going to be, either. But that’s ok.
A lot of churches–especially church plants–approach ministry like Lego purists. They walk through the aisles at the denominational
toy store bookstore annual meeting display hall and find a program and a plan they like. And they take it back to their church. Great enthusiasm ensues as they open the kit and build the model. But then the mystique wears thin. The fun is gone. Especially when you discover that Brother Bubba a mile up the road bought the same kit as you did and they’re having more success using it than you are.
Most pastors I know just run out and buy another kit. Maybe this time it’s a Bionicle. Because everyone knows you can mix and match with them and they all interconnect, so they’ll use this one for a while then they’ll add on another canister of parts……But once the printed directions don’t give instructions on how to put them all together (or how to deal with the unruly parts that don’t want to play well with others!), they lose interest.
So what happens?
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to have a big church swap meet somewhere? Rent a stadium and have all the churches in the area bring all the parts of all the programs they’ve bought into but don’t use any more. Set up a booth. Churches that lost a part of their kit somewhere along the line when Sister Sassy got mad and left to go join the church across town and out of spite took the videotape or the leader’s guide to the study with her. Or the church that wore out the taped background music for the announcements each week could get one from the church that decided the music sounded too much like something lifted from the local funeral home.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see just one church dump all the left-over and un-used parts of all the programs they have out in the middle of the fellowship hall floor and see how they could recombine the parts to make a workable whole?
That’s the core issue, isn’t it? It’s not about being a homogeneous blob. It’s about taking all the different Legos that get thrown into the bin after they’ve been played with for a while, and figuring out how to make something new and different with the various interlocking parts.
There’s no room in a Lego church for purists!