• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

In the box thinking

I used to tell our kids that every philosophical question should be answered by a “yes” and a “no”.  What I meant by that is that you had to approach such questions from multiple perspectives.  Shouldn’t it be the same when we talk about innovation? I am often very good about arguing or looking at an issue or a problem from one perspective, but struggle to be able to examine the same issue or problem from other perspectives.  Often people will say to me (and I find myself saying the very same thing as well) that we need to “think outside the box”.  By that, we imply that what we are currently doing represents “in the box thinking”.  It’s actually answering the question by choosing only one response.

In my experienc, it’s just hard to do both.  It’s hard to free ourselves and others to creatively imagine new approaches to ministry needs (for example, discipling, mobilizing new workers, or engaging those who come for 1-3 months of ministry) all the while working in a defined framework of guiding principles and strong community.  It is thinking “in the box” and thinking “out of the box”.  The sandbox metaphor used by T.J. Addington in his book, Leading from the Sandbox is one effort to try and capture this idea.

If I fail to think both “in the box” and “out of the box”, I may find myself:

  • Proposing innovative ideas, but being “closed” to the input of others in my community which would refine and improve those ideas;
  • Arguing against changing certain structures of ministry because it might challenge what I “know” as life and ministry right now; or
  • Working as if no one else is in the “sandbox” with me, and missing the fruit of interdependence (or the gift of accountability) which would allow me to grow further in my journey with Christ.

I can get stuck very easily in one type of thinking, but then again, that’s why I need community; that’s why we need community.

2 Responses

  1. Here’s one practical thing I’ve done to fight my own “keep it in the box” thinking. It dawned on me a few years ago how quickly we tend to dismiss stories we hear about significant numbers in church planting, citing theological differences or general skepticism “that just can’t be so”. Now, rather than turning away from those stories, I more often try to move toward them; asking more questions, seeking to learn, and looking for principles that would be useful for our own church-planting ministries. And sometimes it’s a bust; the story WAS hyped. Yes, we must be wise and we must be biblically astute, but we need not be fearful OR dismissive. It’s OK to climb outside the box.

  2. While I was sitting in my sandbox today i wasn’t very comfortable. I was afraid the sand would stick to me because I was hot and sweaty. I was frustrated because it just seemed that the sand wouldn’t stick together to make anything very nice. Why even bother when perhaps someone or something would soon come along and knock it down.

    Then it rained…showers of blessing sent from above from my Father of love and all of a sudden it cooled me off and the sand began to stick and I was refreshed enough to try again.

    Then I looked at the tool in my hand a book by Jill Brisco. She had a fresh perspective and with our friend James, “servant of God of of the Lord Jesus Christ….” we were able to help Vena at the Lancaster County Prison the sandbox I get messy in every Tuesday at 3:30. We are memorizing James together and he has given her hope that there is life in and outside the box she’s in.

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