Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Robinsons Go To Church (Classic)

This Grapevine post from April 2007 has been slightly edited... but the truth at the heart of it is still applicable to church life.

Last Thursday night, Braeden & I got to have a "boy night" - that's when, for one reason or another, it's "just us guys" going out or staying in. When we have "boy night" at home, we usually eat our dinner in front of the TV, have extra candy, play board games, and generally behave like a couple of guys training to be college students.

Now that Collin ends up with us, it doesn't work exactly the same - but there's still lots of wrestling... and most recently, we've added indoor basketball to the menu - boys vs. Dad. (Collin shoots baskets while Braeden tries to pin me to the ground. In real basketball, this would be a foul. In the NBA, this would be standard operating procedure. Sigh.) 

[Note: when this post was written, Braeden was almost 6 and Collin had just turned 2. Ah, how the years fly by.]

Anyway, our "boy night" was a trip to our local movie theater to see Disney's Meet the Robinsons... which, by the way, was a wonderful film. (You can read my review - "Keep Moving Forward".)

And the Robinson family, from the giant octopus butler to the interstellar pizza delivery guy to the mob-connected big band frogs, got me thinking about church life. (I am NOT suggesting that our band sounds like a bunch of frogs - who actually sound a bit more like the Rat Pack in the movie.)

No, it was the whole "peanut butter & jelly gun incident" that got me on this track. Lewis, the main character, starts the movie attempting to invent a gun that solves the main problem with PB&J sandwiches - "portion control!" Unfortunately, the gun jams & he manages to shoot peanut butter onto a man who is allergic to peanuts. (According to the film, this pretty much guarantees that these people won't adopt you... but that's another part of the story.) Later in the story, the Robinson family has trouble with their PB&J gun (don't ask how they got one) and Lewis ends up attempting to fix it.

He fails. Once again, he splatters everyone in sight with sticky goo... and you can almost hear his heart break.

And then the family starts applauding, telling him he's done a great job failing. Which, to our culture-trained ears, sounds like complete hooey. Yet the family goes on to encourage Lewis by explaining that great things happen when you're willing to fail over & over in order to find the right answer.

Which is where the whole "Mark thinks about church life" comes in... if we who follow Christ are going to make a God-sized dent in our communities, then we're going to have to be willing to fail. Snowboarders don't pull a180 the first time down the half-pipe - they end up eating a lot of snow before they even get off the lip. (Those of you who don't know snowboarding just nod your head & pretend you know what I'm talking about, OK?) The same thing is true for us in the church... in order to reach people for Jesus Christ, we're going to try stuff that doesn't work.

That's a GOOD thing. It's OK that we create a program that doesn't attract many people - as long as we don't try & keep it alive just because we started it. It's OK that we attempt a new element in a worship service that, well, bombs - the only way to fine-tune things so that they are relevant & meaningful is to try them.

Our job as followers of Jesus is to applaud courageous & honest failures... to give people "props" for trying to follow God into new ministries & new ways of expressing the love of Jesus Christ to other people.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
One small note of warning: applauding failure is not about applauding laziness or incompetence. It's not about glossing over mistakes or procrastination. It's about spurring one another toward love & good deeds... wait a minute, doesn't the Bible say something about that?!

Quotes of the Week

Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
Walt Disney (quoted at the end of "Meet the Robinsons")
Tell yourself, "I'm not a failure. I failed at doing something." There's a big difference.
Erma Bombeck
Lord, deliver me from the man who never makes a mistake, and also from the man who makes the same mistake twice.
Dr. William Mayo
We ain't where we wanna be We ain't where we're gonna be But thank you, Jesus, We ain't where we used t'be. African-American spiritual
My life is not futile; my failures are not fatal; and my death is not final. That simple bit of beginning theology, stolen from Max Lucado's Six Hours One Friday nearly fifteen years ago, is a lesson I still need to hear, and a truth I still have trouble believing. My actions don't often confess these three truths. But at the rock-bottom core of my being, I desperately cling to them as the core of the Gospel.
Steve F. on his blog, Ragamuffin Ramblings

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