I love The Three Stooges. Sure the humor is immature and ridiculous, and of course if someone got smacked in the head with an iron bar or had their nose twisted with a pair of pliers, someone would really get hurt or killed. But I’m still going to laugh because it’s entertaining. One of my favorite lines comes after when either Larry or Curly bumps into or accidentally smacks Moe. He’d get right in their face, nose to nose, and say, “Hey, what’s the big idea? “ Eyes are poked, and then it begins. Pandemonium.
Big ideas have that kind of power, the power to cause a kind of mayhem in the world, and you don’t even need to smack someone in the face for that to happen. Can you imagine what would happen if the church was as influential on the local level and in its surrounding neighborhoods as originally intended? We who are, not directed by Jesus, but informed by him that we ARE the light of the world, but that it is up to us (and even our obligation!) to pull the drapes off our stained glass to illuminate the outside world. That’s not even a big idea. That’s just being consistent with what we profess to be true. A big idea would include knocking the walls down, lighting torches, and storming into the world with Christ’s light. Kind of like the villagers in Frankenstein, except without the anger and pitchforks.
We get complacent in our comfort and are quite snug with our light hidden under a basket. We come to church on Sunday and enjoy the fellowship; we enjoy the well prepared worship music and sermons. We make sure to pile in when there is a post-service potluck. But we come and sit. As Moe said, “Hey, what’s the big idea?”
We can’t simply sit in our church buildings and hope people will knock on the door simply because Jesus is on the other side. We need to create opportunities for people, (yes, the people in the pews, you and I,) to effectively communicate the gospel to those who have never heard the message of grace. We need to go into the world and show people the love of Jesus in practical ways. That’s the big idea. That’s an idea that every church, every Christian, should have at the forefront of their minds. I don’t care what kind of church you are. Are you a small and seemingly mediocre church? Fine. Bill Gates started in a garage. His big ideas revolutionized the technology industry. Is your church older and not as spry as you used to be? Fine. Colonel Sanders didn’t launch his franchise until he was 65 years old. Now look at our arteries.
Perhaps your church is in a rut where you’ve done the same thing for decades. You‘ve done whatever you’re doing for so long that nobody knows why, or who, started the program. If your plan for reaching out to the world, either to evangelize or to meet people’s needs, if you’ve been doing the same thing for years and years and nothing is changing, perhaps it’s time to let that idea die and let a new one begin. There’s no shame in that. That’s how we grow spiritually, and that’s how the light of God’s grace and mercy, the same light that we enjoy, can reach a broken and hurting people.
Now, what’s your big idea?
Great thoughts here. I wonder if the biggest thing that holds people back from really pursuing their “big idea” is a fear of failure.
I actually told my pastor that I’d like to see more civic involvement, and he said “The congregation really wouldn’t go for that.” I fear that our church has become beholden – institutions aren’t supposed to take risks. They’re supposed to program and grow carefully, with balanced budgets and a clear set of constraints on its own authority.
Don’t get me wrong – I like the institutional church; it bundles resources for mission better than any other. But we’re a lot like Jonah, aren’t we? Content to set on our own laurels and take pride in our beliefs. And we don’t want to jeopardize that.
Maybe the big ideas are the most dangerous ones. What if we planned our outreach programs so that they exceeded the budget (not wastefully, of course!)? What if we really made an effort to double the number of conversations we have about faith each week? And what if we made a vow to ask the city counsels in our towns what they need – and before hearing the answer, promise to pledge ourselves to completing the task?
Part of being a shepherd is leading the sheep somewhere that they don’t want to go, not out of spite, but because they need to go there. But there’s nothing wrong with getting a group of people together and going out into the community and loving them in the name of Jesus.