Recently, I saw the movie All Saints. This movie inspires viewers to think outside the box. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines thinking outside the box is “to think imaginatively using new ideas instead of traditional or expected ideas.”
Based on a true story, All Saints tells the story of a small town, struggling Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the United States. Unable to maintain its mortgage payments, the shrinking, aging congregation was facing some very difficult decisions. Its rookie Pastor was told that the church was to be closed and the buildings sold.
In the meantime, a group of refugees from Burma arrive quite literally on their doorstep. Initially the Pastor, and congregation turn them away believing that they were unable to help them. But, as the friends from Burma happened to be Anglican and were seeking to find their home away from home, the pastor welcomed them.
While the church was short on money and personnel, it was rich in land. After learning that the Burmese people were farmers, the pastor thought about and decided to convert the land into a massive garden. The Burmese people could provide leadership in developing the land. The harvest would feed not simply them but could be shared with the whole community. Despite initially being suspicious and threatened by this new and different group, the congregation began to work with them and grew closer together. Gradually, the church began to grow. The original congregation grew to not only accept but embrace the new folk
The story of this church is both inspiring and challenging. They persevered when they could easily have given up. In the desperate situation, the Pastor sought the Lord’s guidance, and challenged his congregation to think differently. He sought to help the congregation focus not on what they lacked, but to look to what could be. They took a risk…to think outside the box. They welcomed a group that neither looked like them nor spoke their language. They looked at their land as an asset not a liability. That church, once teetering on extinction rediscovered its purpose, it still thrives today.
This story raises several important questions: Are you stuck in place of lament? Are you able to look at a situation with creative eyes? Perhaps it is time to allow God to meet you in your questions and help you move beyond what you can see.