Need means that which is essential. It is surprisingly small. In ministry you only need three things: Bible, People, A place to meet. That’s it. If necessity is the father of invention, then constraints is the mother of creativity.
The little camps that do
Camp Hickory Hill embraced creativity. Its speakers were largely the staff, mostly college student. Its activities and adventures made up with minimum supplies and resources. I have interacted with well resourced camps, seen them in action. But, their leadership development and problem solving skills do not even come close. There is a quality to “lesser” camps that cannot beat, and they are the qualities you’d want you kid to have. I have heard this statement from camps like Hickory Hill: “They don’t have ___________, but the ministry here is incredible!” Bible, People, A place to meet.
Engaged impact as best
When all was falling apart, I made the call to just pray. Prayer is an essential. This move was bigger, though. Prayer cannot just be an easy fallback. While it was in the first instance, it was intentional on the others. Why? Because a seemingly boring and less than sparkly event had the greatest impact. (Note to self, play towards child-like faith.) The kids engaged in prayer with greater passion and focus than most adult prayer services I have been too. Engagement is best. Entertainment is fleeting. Bible, People, A place to meet.
I attended a singspiration event on a missions trip that took a joyful noise to a whole new level. Wanting to howl like a dog, the singing was so bad, one could not help but notice the passion in the room. A quote from a Civil War documentary said “Abraham Lincoln was so ugly there was a beauty to him.” That described the singspiration. It affected the students more than anything else on the trip. Bible, People, A place to meet.
“I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.” Ok, this may not be the most spiritual example, but watching the creative exploits of Captain Kirk and crew always got me thinking about how to be creative, to problem solve. It developed a key skill, how to take what you have and use it to communicate and carry out what is most important. Creativity far outweighs any teaching style or method. Bible, People, A place to meet.
Constraints means faith
Embracing constraints means utilizing faith in what you have instead of praying for what you don’t have. Bible: It is the central message we are communicating. That God wants to be known and to know us. People: The Holy Spirit empowers His people. Jesus died for people. People can pray, people can sing. People make ministry happen. A place to meet: Ministry is not a solo business. It can happen anywhere, in anything. Grassy field, tent, building, house, underground catacombs… The church never runs out of space, it just needs to plant to other venues. Space issues are often paradigm issues, and a paradigm is a self-imposed constrain on a non-essential. Bible, People, A place to meet.
The bottom line:
All you need to make ministry happen is Bible, People, A place to meet. I say this because in many parts of the world that is all the church has. I love technology, good music, sound systems, great architecture, books, toys, gadgets and gizmos galore. But, those are not essential. Ministry constraints are often self-imposed from a foundation of non-essentials. The only thing that can block church growth is no Bible, no people, no place to meet. Embrace constraints, they force you to focus on what is essential.