April 2009
March 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
Recent Entries
Movie Metaphysics: The Dark Knight
What's Going On Here??
Why I'm Getting Rid of Google Chrome
Twitter and Me
To the 52, From 1 Of the 48
A Note To Authors (and PR people, too)
Beat Coastal, The Sequel
Obama's Backdrop

September 19, 2007

Outside the Box

I've mentioned before that I was originally a marketing major, and there's still a lot of the marketing geek in me. I love watching commercials (sometimes more than the shows they're advertising on), and my family will tell you I have an annoying habit of coming up with spontaneous slogans for the little Mom and Pop businesses we pass when we're traveling. It's in me, even though my calling is different now.

One of the slogans I used to live by is "think outside the box." Marketers live and die by their ability to innovate, and that box can kill a career in no time if you let it. So I have always taken pride in my ability to think outside that darn box.

But Joe Thorn makes a great point.

There is a danger in the allure to think outside of the box, especially when it comes to new churches and dying churches. It sounds promising, exciting, and new, but for many “thinking outside of the box” simply boils down to trying something we’ve never tried before. This often means we imitate the ministries of other churches, like Mars Hill, Harvest, Sojourn, Saddleback, or FBC of Whatevertown. We see successful churches doing great things, and in our desire to see God do something great among us we simply copy another ministry. So, while we wind up thinking outside of the box of our own operation (a potentially good thing), we may wind up thinking well outside of the box of our cultural context (a bad thing).
I've seen it happen in churches. Attendance is down, or the 'young people' aren't coming anymore, or the new church up the road is attracting some of our people, and so we start trying to "innovate," which usually means copying someone else's great idea. We forget that what works in California won't always work in Kentucky, or Pennsylvania, or Ohio. The people are different, the culture is different. I can tell you that what works for a church two blocks from my house won't work in a church ten miles away, because the people are different. Different ages, different economic level, different education.

But we also have to be careful to define what box we're thinking outside of. Orthodoxy is, after all, a box. It defines the boundaries of what Christianity is, what the "faith once delivered" consists of. The (dare I use the word?) >fundamentals of the faith. If we start thinking outside that box, we wander into territory that we're not meant to be in. We end up wandering far from the faith, and sometimes we can't find our way back. And we lead whole congregations astray -- people who depend on us to show them what's right, and true. Thinking outside that box can be fatal, and can lead people away from Christ.

So I still like to think outside some boxed. But I'm learning just how important, how valuable, some boxes can really be.

Posted by Warren Kelly at September 19, 2007 08:12 PM | TrackBack
Email me!
Email Protection by Name Intelligence