“What happens if this doesn’t work?”
It’s a good question. The statement under the question is “this isn’t going to work”. It’s been used in our family (generally thought, not spoken) whenever Dad jury-rigged something that had cords. Dad was trained as an electrical engineer, which is far different from being an electrician. The man would test if a wire were live by licking his fingers and touching it. Yes, he’s still with us, wonderfully, amazingly so. Perhaps more amazing is that most of the time, what he wired DID work.
“What happens if this doesn’t work?” is a question I hear in my visits with folks around the Presbytery. The question is generally in reference to my position, which is held together with duct-tape and approximately two years of funding.
Of course, most congregations aren’t strangers to the question. They ask it of themselves as they Call a new pastor, or make adjustments to an already lean budget.
It’s a good question.
It’s the wrong question.
The question we should be asking is: “What happens if this DOES work?”
If this does work… will more lives be changed?
If this does work… will God’s kin-dom* expand?
If this does work… will more children be fed, more folks have housing, more people experience justice and mercy?
If this does work… will it mean that more people experience the transformative love of God?
In the Book of Order (part of the Presbyterian Constitution) there is a section that states: The Church is to be a community of faith, entrusting itself to God alone, even at the risk of losing its life. (F.10301). If we dwell on the “what if it doesn’t work” question, we will find ourselves paralyzed and concerned with sustainability. Everything is dust, my friends.
The better question leads us back to ponder whether or not our decisions help us to be a community of faith. It’s a question that begs us to lick our fingers and touch the bare wire to see if it is live… and to see if it is life-giving. Try it at your next meeting… you may find the results to be empowering or even shocking!