Two thoughts about how to promote ‘bridge building’ by church members in order to build up some capital in a culture that either distrusts or outright ignores the church:
First, we need to figure out how to encourage kite flying. The only thing that made the first bridge over the Niagra gorge possible a kite. A child’s kite — in a kite-flying competition — bridged the gap well before anything more substantial could be laid across the span. And once a rope was attached, engineers could begin the work.
We need to learn to help our congregations become OK with dreaming dreams — even crackpot dreams. With trying things. Answering the ‘How?’ question with ‘Yes’.
But second we need to try to make sure that at least a few of these kites land. Or at least that we’re actually behind the effort of kite flying and it isn’t just an exercise in futility.
In his book Breakthrough Thinking: Using Creativity to Solve Problems, Nick Souter makes the obvious point:
If we don’t have an effective process for implementing our ideas, then the thrill of our creative endeavours may well turn to disappointment and eventually disillusionment. We’ll wonder why we bothered. And if this happens repeatedly, we’ll stop bothering.
To change the metaphor, it’s a bit like starting a fire. It may only take a little spark to start a fire. But it’ll need fuel, oxygen and heat to really get going. And in the absence of any one of these, it’ll sputter and die.
The same goes for bridge building (or kite flying).
When the Holy Spirit brings together people’s passions, giftings and opportunities fires get started. Fires that — all too often — church leaders let burn out. Warming themselves over them for a while perhaps. Maybe fearing getting burnt — or seeing others burnt. Doing our level best to contain the blaze.
But what if we actually sought to fan them into a raging furnace? How would we do it?
I’ve devised this ‘spiritual combustion triangle’ as the guts of an answer:
Permission — this is the oxygen of Spirit-anointed, organic, ‘bottom-up’ ministry
Resources (financial, staffing, etc) — these are its fuel
Gospel proclamation — this is the heat; good works are not competitors with the gospel, they’re its fruit — so preach it up!