As a teen, I helped my older brother build a row boat in the basement of our home. It was a long and slow process because we had to save enough funds to purchase wood for the project. That took time. So the boat building proceeded piecemeal, but finally we rejoiced when the project came to completion. The boat was christened “The Pop” in honor of our father.
It was my father’s idea to have a picnic at the lake where we would launch the boat. My brother and I were excited until we tried to get the boat outside. Our basement had one small door to the outside and when we tried to take the boat outside for its debut it would not fit through the door. No matter what angle we tried, no matter how hard we pushed, the boat was not going to go through the door opening. The boat had to be disassembled, brought outside in pieces and reassembled again.
The day of the picnic finally came with my father inviting most of our extended family living in the area. We all lined up along the shoreline for the launch and there was much excitement, but my brother and I were reluctant to get into the boat. My excuse was I was not a good swimmer. Can’t speak for my brother, but he built most of the boat so that says something.
My father decided to be the brave one. (He was born and raised in the mountains of Italy miles from any water, and I had never seen him swim up to that time) I had reservations about his bravado. He entered the boat like he was the captain of a luxury Italian cruise liner, as we pushed him out toward the wider part of the lake. The boat hadn't sailed but 5 feet when it immediately started taking on water and sank into the sand. (The lake was less that 1 foot deep at this point so my father did not have to swim back to shore after he disembarked.)
Upon reconstruction of the boat outdoors we forgot that every sealed joint we had made was now compromised. So much for launching The Pop! It never sailed again.
Today I see another lesson in this story that relates to the kingdom of God. Within the walls of many churches we plan and construct all kinds of strategies to reach the lost, but as soon as we try to bring it to the street we can’t get “through the church door” to the outside where it can serve its goal. Too many places are content with the program, the planning and the crafting without much thought to the outside where it counts the must.
The second lesson I see is if you do manage to get the outreach effort through the door, sometimes the attempt is ill-conceived, full of holes and will sink with failure.
What do you think? What’s the best way to reach the lost?