When I was a kid, say eight or nine, one of my favorite games to play after school was to go “camping.” Camping, in this case, didn’t involve anything too elaborate.
Looking back, it was probably just a chance to be outside, playing in the dirt of the driveway, and driving around our collection of little plastic and metal cars and trucks.
For my brother and I, camping, as near as I can remember, involved filling the little vehicles up with sand, pushing them somewhere new, and watching all the sand flow out.
The sand in this case represented all the awesome stuff my eight year old self thought was essential on camping trips: food, candy, and cookies. Not necessarily in that order. (It was after school and snacks were on my mind.)
And, then, when all the sand had run out, we’d pick a new place to go, load up and head out.
What’s my point?
On my walk this morning, this was the story that came to me, given all my recent losses associated with the established church in this nation. I won’t bore you with mine here, but I suspect you, dear reader, have some sense that the established church is simply not enough as it is.
This sense that the church is not simply good enough as it is; too concerned about its own problems; or the sleeping patterns of others; or countless other ways.
This sense, if you let me continue the metaphor that the grains of sand are quickly slipping out the sides of the plastic VW bus.
Too often, church development schemes and leadership begin by attempting to prop up, stop up, and seek to hold the sand inside. The sand in this instance, standing for everything from the young people, the money, the building, or the people in the choir.
That’s not good enough.
My eight year old self would tell them: shake the rest of the sand out, pack some more and head off in a new direction.
And, pack lots of cookies.
Final thought: my first piece of advice to congregations and individuals I have worked with: clear the clutter. To survive today people, institutions, and groups, must learn to pack lighter for the journey. There are lots of great books and resources out there about simple living, clutter busting, and the rest.