What If The Story Is Never Told?

If you have read my blogs or “Why Church Buildings Matter”, you know I am a fan and proponent of “story”. I believe that story is a critical part to our lives and particularly the physical manifestation of our church’s vision, mission and culture via our facilities.

But…what happens if the story is never completed or told? What if everything always stayed in a perpetual state of “draft”? Matthews 5:15 tells us,

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”

Stories were meant to be told, shared, enjoyed, and fulfilled.  Think about these questions:

  1. Is the script enough? Will the story be told if all we do is write a script?
  2. Is the set design enough? Will the story be conveyed if we only envision, plan and select the color pallets for the stage set?
  3. Is the storyboard enough? Who actually sees the storyboard? Usually it is just a handful of people.
  4. How many tickets can you sell to a concert of an incomplete symphonic work?

I am going somewhere with this, so hang in there and appease me for a minute.

Stories were meant to be told, shared, enjoyed, and fulfilled.

I did a Google search for statistics about the number of manuscripts that never make it to published book status and how many screenplays end up in the black-hole of the “could have been” file.  The numbers are staggering…here are some of the stats I unearthed:

·         On average, there are 50 spec screenplays sold every year out of 250,000 spec screenplays circulating around Hollywood and various other film making venues.  That translates into 5000 to 1 odds.

·         Odds of fatally slipping in your bath or shower are 2,232 to 1. So you have a better chance of dying due to a shower fall than getting a screenplay published.

·         Literary Agencies typically reject 99.5 of everything they see. Out of close to 500 queries a month (electronic and surface mail) they may receive, they invite perhaps 50 proposals for review. Out of that fifty, perhaps one or sometimes two is ready to be delivered to publishers. So your odds of getting your literary baby to a publisher is 500 to 1…or a .2% chance of getting published

These odd are not great and yet authors, scriptwriters and the like, continue to produce manuscripts, drafts, and screenplays year after year.  Why?  Because there is this hope that eventually they will be noticed or that their proverbial ship will come in and their life will be altered forever. Hope upon hope. Envisioning a better, more spectacular future.

So how does this relate to the story of our church facilities?

I have been serving churches for 31 years…built my first church project in 1986 (before many of you were born) for Bethelview United Methodist Church outside Boone, NC. I have been a part of some incredibly exciting development projects and ministry initiatives. I have been privy to some remarkable stories. The concern I have is when I see a church or other ministry invests tens, and even hundreds of thousands of ministry dollars…entrusted to them by God…to only develop the manuscript or screenplay. They spend countless hours and monies, contributed by people giving sacrificially, to develop pretty pictures, concept drawings, and even complete architectural plans that are just the manuscript of the story. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the creative process and the vision sessions I have been a part of and led. But is that enough? Is the pretty storyboard and fly-through videos of our planned spaces enough? Have we been prudent and diligent in our stewardship initiatives if that is as far as we get?

I say “Not just NO, but….” (you can fill in the rest).

If the story was worth the effort to commit the time and dollars to develop the manuscript…and it is financially feasible (which means your manuscript needs a section on financial responsibility)…and provides the right, intentional tools to fulfill the vision and mission, then the story needs to be told. It needs to come to fruition. It needs to be built…or leased…or purchased…or renovated…or converted.

Don’t allow your manuscripts and pretty pictures to windup in a closet at the church or the pastor’s trunk. We do not have the luxury to gamble with odds like the examples above, with Kingdom assets. We cannot spend dollars, given sacrificially, knowing that the likelihood of reaching the finish line has a success ratio of 500:1. That is a high-stakes venture and not very responsible as a leader. If your team has been properly lead thought a well-crafted process, and has fully vetted your ministry needs, culture, financial capabilities, congregational buy-in, team and other market conditions, then complete the work. Tell your story.

There is a world waiting to read it.

Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

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