Monday, July 27, 2009

Irresistible Environments

Clark and Jake and I just spent a week of vacation with my parents and my sister's family - it was a great week filled with all of the energy, joy and busyness that a 5-year old, a 2-year old, a 1-year old and a 5-month old bring to the table!

I don't know if Andy Stanley coined the phrase, but on more than one occasion I've heard him talk about creating "irresistible environments." I've always bought into the theory, but I had a chance to observe it in action with the kids one morning. We had been running like crazy keeping up with all four of them out at the beach as they went in different directions to play (one to the water, another to dig in the sand, another chasing a sea gull - you get the idea), so I decided to venture out on my own and see who would follow. I went down to the water's edge and begin to dig an enormous hole that would fill with water. On the edge of the hole I began piling my sand to be the base for a huge drip castle. As I worked, sure enough the kids found their way to me - first the 5-year old (Liza Jane) who wanted the hole to be big enough for a whale and immediately began to assist my digging efforts, then the 2-year old (Max) who wanted to use the shells he found as kayaks and motor boats to speed around the "lake", and then the 1-year old (Ruthie) who was curious to see what her big brother and sister were up to. The 1-year old is afraid of water and when she noticed the hole filling with water, she kept a safe distance, but didn't want to walk away so she stood by, continuing to observe, building up her nerve to be part of whatever this excitement was that had so engaged the big kids. Not long after, some of the kids from families nearby came over to see what was going on and before long the kids had made some new friends and had help building the "lake" and the drip castle.

The theory isn't profound, but it's absolutely true. With ARC, we are trying to create an irresistible environment where people not only want to come and see what's going on, but also a place where people want to bring everyone they know. Some may be hesitant at first (like Ruthie), but if we continue to be faithful and passionate about what we're doing, they won't be able to resist joining in, which means coming to know Jesus Christ as part of their life and worshiping God together.

Jesus said, "let the little children come to me" - what an opportunity to create that environment!

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