October 30, 2017

Thinking Creatively

Family dinner comes rarely these days, with two teenagers on the go and two parents serving as taxi drivers (and working full-time). When we get to sit down together, it is treasured time.

A napkin company made it even better. We bought one of those jumbo packs of napkins from the local grocery store. We expected the cheap dimpled-white napkins. Instead, these napkins had quirky illustrations and conversation starters: Share your best joke. What was the most outrageous thing you saw today? Tell me about your day and what made it ok.

We’ve had fun with the napkins, asking the questions and then going down inevitable rabbit holes that have left us laughing and learning more about each other’s day—and lives.

I’m thankful for the napkins. But this isn’t a blog about napkins. It’s about being creative. I wonder who in this napkin company came up with the idea to make a simple napkin a tool for conversation. Who first floated the idea of using the same napkin that wipes spaghetti sauce off the corners of mouths to spur conversation?

It makes me wonder how we in the church can be similarly inspired. What things are part of our every day that can be easily transformed into tools for relationship-building? Spoiler alert: I don’t know the answer to this question. If I did, I would be in high demand among napkin manufacturers and church developers.

Let’s take a cue from the napkins (not a sentence frequently written) and think creatively. What about the configurations of our tables and chairs in the fellowship halls? Maybe we could set up round tables instead of long aisles. Maybe we don’t use tables but gather in a circle for Bible studies. Or if we’re already in a circle, maybe we try something else.

What if our bulletins not only had instruction for worship but also some take-home conversation starters for people? What if the back page of the bulletin was an invitation to come to worship that people could give to a neighbor or co-worker?

What if every meeting, no matter the purpose, began with prayer? What if young people were also included among the roster of lay readers? I challenge vestries to have a snack at their next meeting – and to serve the snacks on these conversation-starter napkins. Spend 10 minutes answering the questions posed on the napkins. Get to know each other better. And then spend 10 minutes brainstorming about how to tweak and transform what we’re already doing into new ways of building up the Body.