An aquarium manufacturer was in the midst of a major business crisis. Despite their best efforts, a large percentage of its custom made glass aquariums were arriving at their destinations broken, if not completely shattered. Desperate to figure out a shipping solution that wouldn’t break the aquariums or the bank, they turned to Edward de Bono. De Bono was no experts in aquariums or glass or even shipping methods, he was however known for being an expert in thinking. He had literal coined the term “lateral thinking” in his 1967 book. His solution not only eliminated the company’s breakage problem, it also ended up saving them money in packaging as well!
What was the solution? Instead of packaging the aquarium for shipment, he had them instead place the label on the aquarium itself. That way the handlers could see for themselves they were dealing with glass and mishandling it would affect them personally. Now the packages were treated with utmost care simply because the shipper now knew the responsibility to which they were being entrusted.
I wonder if this solution isn’t what is needed in the church as well. Over the years, we made church more about something we have people come to rather than something they are a part of. The focus has been on improving the surroundings rather than calling people to service. We add more programs, indulge more desires, provide more protections, and make things so easy that it seems there is no way someone won’t be involved. Yet we still see the same problems, the same attitudes the same difficulties, year after year.
Maybe the solution isn’t in fixing the “issues” but in challenging people to see their responsibility. For the people of God to be about the Lord’s business they must first realize it is their business. Make people a part of the ministry, not just a consumer of it. The call of Christ is to be a servant, not to be served.
Notice Jesus didn’t coax people to be his disciples, he call them. Drop what you are doing and follow me. Count the cost if you want to be my disciple (Luke 14:25-33). Take up the cross. He let people know the responsibility to which they are entrusted and the danger they will be in if they drop it.
We might have been spending too much time trying to protect the church and not enough time making it aware of its responsibility. The only way to stay safe is to never leave the doors but that isn’t what we are commanded to do. Our business isn’t survival, it is salvation. We have a message to deliver to the world.
If we see our responsibility, we won’t fail to make that delivery.