I know this may sound strange, but After attending the NEXT Church conference this year I was left thinking about the movie “Dude Where’s my car.”
OK, this may take a little explaining. It was brought up pretty early that our Best Practice of seeking out Best Practices and well… practicing them is not exactly being conducive to successfully carrying out the ministry God has called us to. These Best Practices are concepts that have worked in the past, but typically, by the time we put them to work they are no longer relevant to a population that is used to being bombarded by new and exciting things at the speed of technology. We have at absolute minimum one new iPhone coming out every year, a television show can be watched live and then streamed online the next day via services like hulu if you thought you missed something, if you have a question Google is at your finger tips with any mobile connected smartphone (which if you don’t have one [in this day and age!?], someone you know in your direct vicinity does). We are used to change, and fast paced change. Because of this we cannot be using the newest and most effective business strategies of… 20 years ago, and expect them to work in the ministry context. Nor can we necessarily use the Best Practices being used by churches for the last five or ten years as we are a society that lets everything turn stale like a loaf of bread left unsealed.
This is where the positive deviance comes in. Getting away form the center, and finding the outliers on the (+) end of the ministry bell curve. By sharing our ideas, what we are doing in ministry that is working and working well, with one another in real time and putting them into practice, perhaps before they are proven, we can get ahead of this stagnation that comes with our modern culture. But again, once we put these new and exciting ideas into practice, how long will they last, what comes NEXT? This is where “Dude Where’s My Car” fits in (See, I got there eventually). There is a scene in this movie where Ashton Kutcher’s character (Jesse), and Sean Williams Scott’s (Chester) are in a Chinese fast food restaurant drive through. As Jesse is ordering food for himself and his friends, the attendant at the drive through asks “And Then” after each item ordered.” When Jesse is finished ordering, the lady continues to ask “And then?” Jesse, responds with “No and then,” to which she responds again with “and then?” and this goes on for some time… “And then?” No and then” “And then?” No and then” “And then?” “NO AND THEN!” “AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN!?” Essentially, The questions of what is NEXT for the church has to be a constant question. We have to always be looking for those outliers, always looking for ways to BE those outliers, always asking “And then?” Even when we have a ministry style that is successful; even when asking the questions makes us feel like Jesse as he destroys the drive through speaker box because he doesn’t want to answer the question, “And then?”