I have recently gone back to school. It is a relatively new degree program at St. Louis University. My first class is Foundations in Sustainability. In the first component of the class we have been learning about basic engineering design concepts. To help illustrate the point, we have taken apart a toaster, figured out its Bill of Materials and its estimated environmental costs. Now our task is to figure out and pitch a more environmentally friendly/sustainable model.
To get us to open our minds to more innovative ideas, we used the Six Thinking Hats process. Basically, each colored hat represents a way to think about the problem. It ranges from "just facts" to "passions" to "what ifs". During the part of time delegated to that hat, you can only discuss those qualities. That way you don't get bogged down by "well that would never work....." There is time for that, but it is after all the possible ideas are out there. I can see the real advantage fo this in church thought. To further illustrate the point, he asked each of us to make a list of five birds. He then went around and asked which bird was at the top of the list. Since we are in St. Louis, and there was a baseball game that night, almost half the class had put Cardinal at the top. His point was that even though the group was leaning towards one idea, we shouldn't discount the one penguin. That could be the truly innovative idea that transforms our product/experience. I see churches get so wrapped up in the "this is how it has always been done", "we tried that once and it didn't work" and "that would never work here" frame of thought that we close ourselves off to truly transforming ideas before they are even given a chance. I encourage you all to check this book out and give it a chance. Who knows what possibilities you might discover in your church communities.