You are the equipment!
by Terry Camsey, Major –
“Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge. ‘Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers…
Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here…
Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment.”
Matthew 10, The Message
Does that grab your attention or what? It certainly caught my eye when I re-read it recently. It reinforces that right now, every corps has exactly the resources it needs to evangelize its community effectively. This is born out, too, by the Biblical passages on gifts. We have the resources. We are the equipment.
My guess is that, by and large, most congregations know (deep-down) what needs doing and why it must be done. What they may not know is how best to do it with the resources they have and in the setting where they are located. They wonder—how can they assemble the “pieces of the puzzle” they have been given (spiritual gifts) into the “picture” of ministry God designed those “pieces” to accomplish?
Despite protestations in some quarters, churches do (since they are an organization) share some similarities with other organizations. Both, by definition, are groups of individuals held together in pursuit of a common cause whose overall effectiveness is substantially influenced by the dedication and motivation of the individual members. Additionally, both struggle to fulfill their missions as the world changes around them at an incremental pace. Certainly God is in control, knows the end from the beginning and has always revealed himself to those who ask for wisdom (James 1:4-5).
However, as one wag suggested, while he does feed the birds, he doesn’t throw the food in the nest! One of his greatest gifts to us has, surely, been the gift of intelligence, which, with diligence, can be increased. Paul suggested to the Corinthian church that they not beat the air when that same energy could be applied to efforts that produce the results sought. Make every blow count, he suggested.
Unfortunately, many congregations—while praying and expressing a desire for growth—hedge that desire with a proviso that nothing be changed. It is not enough to, like the Sons of Issachar, know the times, we must also respond appropriately with the good news we have to share.
Organizations that last are ones that experiment with new ideas and relentlessly strive to improve their skills. Dr. Edward de Bono challenges us when he suggests that if an organization only improves what it currently has, it can get locked when something new is needed for survival and “thrival.” If all that is done is to improve what is, what happens (he asks) when you are lean and fit, have downsized, have cut costs, have improved quality to the point that you can’t improve “what is” any more? What, he adds, if “way back when” will not work, no matter how much the old information is massaged?
The sad thing is that, although we are created in the image of our Creator, much of that creative potential lies undiscovered, undeveloped, and unused. Busy chasing after the elusive “quick-fix-one-size-fits-all” universal remedy for failing churches, we have been blind to new possibilities through innovation and optimization. We have barely developed the innate ability with which we have been blessed. We have been so busy copying others that in our attempts to “spoon feed” congregations we have failed to unleash the enormous creative potential of “the ultimate creation of the ultimate Creator!”
Researchers tell us that we only use 10% of our creative potential even when thinking hard! A corollary suggests that 90% of the intellectual and creative ability of our “work-force” remains untapped. That’s a lot of “equipment” lying around unused.
Maybe its time for the church (and the Army within the church) to reclaim its heritage and recapture the same incredible creativity that once so influenced the arts and indeed (as Booth demonstrated) reformation of the church itself.
Maybe it’s time to cultivate “a culture of creativity” for, after all…
…we ARE the equipment!