The territorial commander has, with her mission priorities, sounded the clarion call to action, a call that includes a challenge to creative thinking. This has nothing to do with throwing out the “baby” with the bathwater, rather it has to do with refreshing Booth’s “baby” and clothing it in dress more suitable to today than to the nineteenth century.
In other words, re-examining what Booth set out to accomplish, discerning the principles underlying his methods, and exploring how those principles might be applied today, as effectively as his methods applied them in his day. And (as the politicians so frequently phrase it) “make no mistake about it,” Booth did not intend his Army to be small…he had a big vision, and the thousands who attended his early meetings attest to that. Look at those lithographs in the history books again…masses of people, far less in uniform than out of it (because he was effectively going out to the streets, attracting the unsaved and bringing them in), but I am ahead of myself!
One of my favorite pastimes when I want to do some creative thinking is to reverse the challenge. In other words, if I want to do some creative thinking about how to make visitors feel more welcome, I reverse the challenge to read, “How can I ensure that absolutely noone who visits the corps feels welcome?” Then I brainstorm ways of making them feel uncomfortable. Finally I take that list and reverse every thought I have jotted down.
For example, consider the challenge of attracting new people …
Look at the way we usually “do church”:
- We expect the unsaved to come to us
- We expect them to come to us on a day convenient to us
- We expect them to come at a time that is convenient to us
- We expect them to be comfortable in a place where we are more comfortable
- When they come, they are the minority and we are the majority
- We expect them to enjoy sermons geared to our needs, rather than theirs
Now, what if we reversed these expectations so that:
- We went to where the unsaved are
- On a day that is convenient to them
- At a time convenient to them
- At a place that is most comfortable to them
- Where we are the minority and they the majority
- Where teaching responds directly to their pressing needs, not ours
What ideas does this list suggest to you?
For me, T*****WARE parties immediately came to mind. What if we developed a brand new concept in house parties where we offered a time of fun, fellowship and building skills to cope with life? What if we offered Christian discussion leaders willing to go to people’s houses (or other neutral acceptable location) to teach a subject selected by the host, to several of the host’s friends, at a day and time that was acceptable to the host and her friends. And, suppose, that it was for a series of six informal meetings and–apart from offering a free speaker, you offered a free pizza for the first meeting!
Is such an idea feasible? If you know the Serendipity Bible Study material available, you will know that there are six-week courses available on a host of subjects of interest to today’s young adult generations…life style challenges (parenting, singles’ issues, improving marriages, etc.)…as well as subjects related to hurts and struggles (coping with infertility, breaking free from addiction, blended families, parenting children with learning disabilities, etc.). You will also know that each lesson provides for an “icebreaker” to build relationships, a simple interactive Bible study, and a time of prayer for needs expressed. Such a simple, short, format that it is easily teachable.
Well, that’s one idea I came up with. I wonder what your idea might be?