What was the best idea that you’ve ever had? I’ve had a long history of brilliant ideas. The problem is that most of them had a fatal flaw. For example, in the 90s, I had the brilliant idea of inventing a way to order pizza online (fatal flaw: someone did it nearly a decade before I was born). In highschool, I had this brilliant idea for a prank involving a dead 6 foot long black snake and an Oldsmobile (fatal flaw: my mother). In seminary, I had a great idea for bringing internet access and the gospel to poor communities in developing countries (fatal flaw: I never actually did anything about the idea).
All of these ideas are actually good ideas. The fatal flaw in them isn’t something that would prevent them from working. In the case of my pizza idea, it is an idea so good that it was completely obvious to anyone who’s ever had pizza and used the internet. I wasn’t the only one who thought of it and I definitely wasn’t the first. My prank idea was a good idea and would have completely worked which is WHY my mom put a stop to it. As a parent I’ve promised myself that I will only stop my kids prank ideas if they are doomed to failure or an arrest record*. I believe that my internet idea for developing countries was a very good idea, but I’ll never know because I didn’t make the changes and necessary time and financial investments to even try.
Every really good idea is an idea that solves a problem. The more universal the problem, the greater the idea for the solution is. This is what makes the Gospel the greatest idea in the history of the world. The whole world is flawed and sinful. Every single person who has ever lived can identify with that problem. So along comes Jesus with a really radical idea. One that fixes everything! Then Jesus did the one thing that would seem like a fatal flaw, he left the execution up to us.
Now that we have that Good idea placed in our hands, what should we do with it? How do we execute something so necessary and important it will literally save the world? Most of us can’t even work our printers (mine is currently backsliding into its old worldly ways). Every good idea needs at least 3 things to go from concept to reality.
- A Willingness To Admit We Are Wrong.
New ideas mean giving up old ideas. Humility is vital to implementing the Gospel. The early church was shocked by the fact that gentiles could also receive the Holy Spirit. The church had existing for some time at that point and no one even considered sharing the Gospel with gentiles. And for decades following, most of the Jewish church thought that the gentiles needed to convert to Jewish Christianity to be true disciples of Christ. Some of them never adapted. Paul was called by God because he was willing to be a bridge from the Jews to the rest of the world. As stewards of the Gospel, we need to look at how we are sharing the Gospel and examine it regularly to determine if we are being effective. Sometimes that means we need to obey a calling from God that is counterintuitive to everyone else and faithfully toiling away at that. But often, it means looking at your Google Analytics account and figuring out why the only traffic you are getting is coming from people sitting in your pews during announcements.
- A Willingness To Change.
New ideas will always require you to change something. Usually it is how your spend your time. Often it is a way of thinking. When we share the Gospel we are asking someone to change the very core of who they are. How can we not be at least consider that our work routine might need shaken up too? The hardest thing that you need to change is how you spend your time. Administration is important, but souls are more important. The very heart of this is the ability and willingness to listen. I also recommend checking out Piper’s “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” (free pdf here).
- Discipline To Follow Through.
I wanted to start all three points with “A Willingness To…” but the fact is that I have the willingness to do a lot of things, but not the self discipline to do it. So many people start a blog, a site, a ministry, a podcast, or whatever and then fade out 6 months to a year later. So many churches try something once and then never try it again because it didn’t work the first time. Even Christ’s ministry took 3 years to build up. If you have anyone but your mom reading your blog 6 months into it, you’re on the road to success! No ministry starts big and gets bigger. The first Sunday is always a party and then things fade out. It is what you do after the cinderella period wears off that determines how the future will go.
The world has a LOT of problems. And for some reason God gave you the answer to share with the people around you. That doesn’t make you smarter, more righteous/holy, or even right about most things. It just means you have an opportunity and a can’t-miss idea. Now let’s go order some pizza and spread the Gospel!
*My wife says I might not be allowed to keep this vow regarding pranks. But just wait until she opens her sock drawer next time…