Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? — Luke 14
I have an app on my phone which tells me meals I can make with what food is already in my house. All I have to do is take the time to list all the things in my refrigerator and pantry, and the app makes suggestions that I never would have thought of. Thanks to this app, we make delicious meals that make better use of what we have. Less waste, great taste!
The key to the app’s success is listing what we have. It’s a pain to sift through the refrigerator and type in every item. It takes time to enter it all into the pantry into the phone, one thing at a time. It is more than worth this effort.
It’s also quite revealing (and a little embarrassing)! We found things a few days (years) past their expiration date. We found canned foods we didn’t remember we had and dried goods in the back we’d been meaning to try. Sometimes we didn’t even need the app. Just the process of listing our things would generate an idea!
We had to be thorough, though. The app couldn’t suggest a potato dish if we didn’t tell it we had potatoes. We had to be accurate, too. One time the app suggested a dish the whole family got excited about, only to discover we didn’t have the key ingredient after all. We were sad.
A thorough, accurate listing of every little thing we had, however, would yield fresh, enticing meals. Sometimes the app’s suggestions were so far outside of the bounds of our recipe cards and cook books we would look at one another with doubt. We would never have thought of some dishes on our own. Nearly every time, though, the meal hit the mark.
This Sunday, April 7, from 10:30 to 12:00 as a congregation, we will go through a similar process. Like I did for my cooking app, we will take some time to list our assets: Physical, Fiscal, People, Institutions, Intangibles, and Imaginary. Then we will try to cluster our ingredients into fresh, enticing, and most importantly, doable possibilities.
Here is a look at the steps we’ll take in small groups together:
1. Recognizing Our Assets
1. God has blessed us richly with many assets: Physical, Fiscal, People, Institutions, Intangibles, and Imaginary. Brainstorm as many of these assets as you can. To save time, many of our Physical and Fiscal assets have been listed for you.
2. As you list each asset, tape it on one wall. Each asset gets its own paper and tape. Be as granular as you can. Use thought-provoking questions to jog your thinking about your assets.
2. Creative Connections (30 min)
1. Once your group has listed assets in all the categories, step back from the wall to take in the whole picture.
2. Think about God’s will for your congregation, the gifts God has given us, and the actions we can take by using these gifts.
3. Encourage the group to share a possible action which clusters groups of assets that have not been clustered together before.
4. Other people can add assets to the cluster or start a new cluster. As you are clustering assets, talk to each other about the actions you might develop.
5. Your group could end up with from two to six clusters of assets representing particular actions you’ve discovered through brainstorming. Give each action a short name. Write that name down on a large sheet with the asset cluster to be posted for the large group.
We will supply you with some assets already listed for you to save time, especially in the physical and fiscal categories. We are also asking that you choose a different small group that the one you were in at our March meeting, and if possible, for spouses to join different groups.
I am convinced the Holy Spirit is speaking through us, and I am excited to see the possibilities the small groups come up with! We are asking each of the eight small groups to generate two ideas, though we are asking that the four ideas Pastor Todd has been using as examples be EXCLUDED for consideration by the small groups for now. Pastor Todd’s examples are: concert hall, preschool, clothing library, senior center. With two ideas from each group plus the four examples, we could potentially have 20 IDEAS to choose from in June!
We will continue to brainstorm and coalesce our ideas in our May 19 meeting, and then we will have a dot runoff on June 2 to determine interest. We’ll take the top three ideas for staying along with the top three ideas for going and form Feasibility Teams to do more formal study of these ideas over the summer. More on that to come.
In the meantime, let’s be thoughtful and complete in listing all the wonderful assets God has already blessed us with. Let’s be open and creative in clustering together new possibilities and in imagining what might be. I believe the Holy Spirit is much more able than my measly phone app in coming up with something fresh, enticing, and doable. Let us be faithful in listing and in listening.
Peace, Pastor Todd