Square Wheels Aren’t Funny

A while ago I watched a portion of one of the now ancient “Carry On” comedy movies. It must have been a very bad night on TV! Which one of the series I cannot remember but in the bit I saw a caveman had come up with a new invention, namely the “Square Wheel”. However, when he fitted it to a bicycle the problem was it didn’t work! Surprise, surprise! Those darned square wheels are sure hard to peddle!
Of course it’s ok to invent something and then find it doesn’t work. You just try something different. However, to keep on reinventing the “Square Wheel”, the design that didn’t work in the first place would seem to be a tad bit silly! Yet it seems that we in the church are quite good at just that.
I was reminded of this a few years ago at a ministers’ conference, in a particular session on church planting. We were listening to a speaker who was describing his experience in a church plant he was at the time responsible for. The talk was largely about the mistakes he realised he had made in planting the new church, which ultimately failed. As he talked I remember thinking he could have been warned against making those same mistakes by reading any number of books on church planting written during the previous ten years or so! Yet he and others had persisted in reinventing the “Square wheel”- i.e. the model that hadn’t worked the first time it was tried.
We still seem to be seeing the same “Square wheel” approach to mission being adopted today. Several examples have been noted in recent times. These include the building of expensive, ‘in-drag’, Sunday-centric, Christendom style large “church” facilities- the very model that has now been failing in mission for decades. There is no reason to believe it is suddenly likely to be particularly fruitful now. “Square Wheels” don’t suddenly become a good idea!
As I have written many times, what is needed is for the church to be ‘Unbound’. That is set free from all the forms that have proved to be of limited fruitfulness in mission. The movie I referred to was a comedy, “Square Wheel” mission strategies are anything but!

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