NOTE: This post first appeared on my blog in May of 2006
"I think God calls us to do ministry out of imagination. I think there are ways of doing church that have yet to be discovered. Like everything else, we've got to be good stewards of our imaginations. Imagine a generation of church planters with sanctified imaginations experimenting with new ways of doing church! New Songs. New wineskins. For what it's worth, we (NCC) feel called to be part of the Research & Development (R & D) Department of the Kingdom of God. One of our core values is: everything is an experiment." --- Pastor Mark Batterson, National Community Church, Washington, DC
Have you ever been stretched? Think about it. I am not talking the super hero of our child years that could stretch his arms and legs great distances. I am talking about being stretched to grow spiritually. God stretches us. Believe me.
Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it takes a long time, even a lifetime. Sometimes is it gentle. Sometimes is is extremely painful, yet every time God stretches His kids we come out changed, better equipped to serve Him and blessed. What do you think?
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)
"God can do anything, you know— far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!..."
My wife and others will tell you that I have a pretty good imagination. It gave me a good chuckle when, a year or two ago, I was watching a Barney (c) video with my kids about imagination. I can still sing that stupid song today, but you know, he was right. We need to use our imagination. God wants to use our imagination. He wants this to be an active part of our daily lives.
But the church doesn't often allow this or foster this in its leaders. God wants us to think outside the box. Our tradition, some of it, is very important, yet some of it is not and hampers the work of God. As I heard a wise man say recently (and many times before, "the message never changes but the methods must".
Ever heard the story of the frog in the kettle? The church is kind of like this to its leaders. The frog will jump higher every time without the lid on the kettle, but when the lid is put on it, the frog will only hit his head on the lid a few times before he learns not to think or look outside the kettle. Think about it.
As a pastor and a leader of God's people, I want to be stretched and help others to stretch. What we do with God's guidance is awesome stuff. Henry Blackaby, author of the tremendous book "Experiencing God", gave us a profound thought: "the reason why the world is not seeing God in the church is that the church is not attempting anything that only God can do." (quoted from my memory). God, I pray, stretch me. Let my imagination run hard and deep and in crazy directions for you.
Stretch your imagination. What is this all about? It is about being all God wants you and me to be.
John 15:4 (MSG)
"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."
I close this e-devotion with another thought from Mark Batterson and ask you to think hard about this: "The Great Commandment tells us to love God with "all of our mind." That means left-brain and right-brain. Theology is the way we love God with our left-brain. Creativity is the way we love God with our right-brain! When the two intersect you end up with a church that is orthodox in belief and unorthodox in practice!"