Dangerous Things for Church

Some months ago I was sent this video of a TED talk on “5 dangerous things you should let your kids do.” Play with fire, own a pocket knife, take appliances apart, and the like. The idea has gained traction in a lot of quarters, that keeping kids in a hermetically sealed bubble hinders creativity and does not prepare them for life.

The other day some moms and kids were walking home from the bus stop and one of the kindergartners started running down the hill towards our house and the mom yelled, “SLOW DOWN!” I wanted to say, “In the name of God, why?!”

I remember Robert telling me about this story of a woman who let her 9-year-old ride the New York City subway by himself. The blog post is up to 580+ comments, mostly supportive, but a few are ready to turn her in for child neglect. I would like to say I’d consider something similar, with the right kid and under the right circumstances—though I’d probably give him or her a cell phone.

On this topic, check out this graphic from an article in the Daily Mail called “How children lost the right to roam in four generations.” I can only imagine the angst from some of the neighbor moms if I let my kids roam! A few weeks ago I let Caroline and Margaret play and ride bikes in the cul de sac. I could see them from the window but wasn’t watching them every second. I was actually less worried about them hurting themselves than I was about attracting the ire of fellow parents.

Anyway, that’s not why I’m posting this video. I’m wondering what you would include on a list of “5 dangerous things we should let churches do.” I think we’re too risk-averse in general. What should those five things be?

I’ve asked this before, and here are a few responses I got:

  • Admit you don’t know stuff.
  • Do something unpopular but faithful (and sticking to it)
  • AND
  • Doing something popular to be faithful.
  • Fail.
  • Call folks when they stop coming to church.
  • Embrace rejection.

What would you add to the list?


10 thoughts on “Dangerous Things for Church

  1. -Don’t contact people when they stop coming to church.
    -Sit in silence for one hour every week.
    -Put mirrors around the sanctuary and make people look at themselves saying, “I am God’s beloved, in whom God is well pleased.”
    -Tell people you don’t care when you don’t.
    -Raffle off the opportunity to physically destroy something precious and valuable for the homeless (i.e. the communion table, the high altar, the baptismal font, the historical display in the foyer).

  2. Jenn Williams Wilson says:

    my answer pertains to the youth ministry portion of the church… and I did do this and stuck to it though the original outrage was palpable….

    do away with the very expensive and spiritually fluffy traditional ski trip in favor of an at home mission lock in…

  3. Colin Pritchard says:

    Ask for the honest opinions of members of the surrounding community. What do the neighbors of the church think about the church?

    Go ahead and “get a witness” – share personal testimonials in worship.

    If you have a special “youth service” let the youth actually plan and run the thing.

    Acknowledge that the most troublesome folks in the congregation are starting from a place of fear and pain.

    Pray like God is listening.

    Thanks for your wonderful input into the world of ministry MaryAnn

  4. Rebecca Page Lesley says:

    Spend money like Jesus really might come tomorrow.
    Invite the HS to inspire us–and mean it!
    Encourage the feedback of our young people–and really listen.
    And going off something Colin said, allow fear and pain to have a place in the church to be acknowledged.
    Thanks for making me think about that on a Monday, MaryAnn!

  5. Barnabas says:

    Wow, all these great ideas…and I was just gonna say something as simple as screw the liability and invite every community group to use your facility as a community center. The liability police (aka B&G committee) just turned down a new church development to meet in our facility. Cause liability is more important than God’s kingdom, you know…

  6. Jules says:

    1. Instead of selling food every year at the art fair–give it away.

    2. Let some other church in the community have a turn at the ministry that you clearly are not called to do any more.

    3. Dare to let them do it better.

    4. Or worse.

    5. Spend down your “rainy day fund” doing ministry. Feel what “wet” feels like.

  7. Notshychirev says:

    1. Talk about death when there isn’t a casket in the room.

    2. Marry gay couples.

    3. Talk about what frightens them without trying to assuage their fears with appeals to trust or believe “more.”

    4. Lament and/or be joyful without reservation.

    5. Sing hymns they love that give us the theological wllies, so long as they let us explain why they give us the willies.

  8. sherry says:

    1. Turn off the air conditioning (or the heat) and spend that money on housing for people with greater needs than temperature control.

    2. Grow vegetables instead of flowers and give them away.

    3. Celebrate and consecrate marriages of people who love and commit to each other regardless of their orientation.

    4. Fight for the execution of justice not people.

    5. Play

  9. Jan Lorah says:

    *never single out one person in the congregation to set as an example
    *omit announcements at the beginning of worship time
    *invite and offer more contemplative worship experiences
    *use lay persons, remembering that the greater the participation, the greater the “ownership” and genuine interest in the success of the mission project/worship event/craft fair/VBS/etc

  10. lukeluke says:

    Not related to content, but for some reason his presentation style in the video annoys me. Cain’t ‘splain why!

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