How many predictions have you heard in the last two years? “This is what the new workspace will look like.” “This is where the economy is headed.” “This is what post-pandemic education will look like.” “Crypto will be everything!”
It happens in the church too. “Ten Ways COVID is Changing Ministry.” “Seven Keys to the Future Church.” Consultants and gurus sell books and make money from our desire to be certain about the future.
Tod Bolsinger is not one of those consultants. I heard the author of Canoeing the Mountains speak last year. He said something that reoriented my thinking:
Don’t predict. Prototype.”
Now is the time to pilot something new.
Expect some measure of failure.
Try again. Don’t worry about investing in a five year strategic plan. Just get out there and try something.
Prediction seeks a certain outcome. Eliminate risk and mitigate uncertainty. By contrast, prototyping is an act of faith. You lean into uncertainty. Paul said, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith is blind to certitude. By definition, faith involves unpredictability. We hear our way around, taking steps upon a path we have not walked before.
In my church, we are pioneering a few things this year. A new mission start on our city’s south side. A new ministry to African youth. It’s messy, wild, unpredictable . . . and awesome. I sense the Holy Spirit when we are doing ministry “off the map.” The less control we have, the more we see the hand of God. “Not by might shall man prevail” (I Sam. 2:9).
This is exactly the moment to try new things. Ambiguity is the right time to creatively extend the gospel into new spaces. Is it risky? Yes. But the only real risk is to do nothing.