Is the phrase “thinking outside the box” worn out yet? It’s probably an overused cliché, but I still like it. It comes out whenever a person or group is trying to break free of the status quo or the overly familiar, knowing that any kind of spiritual, relational, emotional, creative or even physical development happens when we think in unfamiliar directions. For example, great breakthroughs in science or the arts happen when someone gets “outside the box” of familiar, accepted ways.

Unfortunately, we usually find it easier to stay and try to get others into our existing box. It’s comfortable in our box, predictable. We may get bored in our box sometimes, but at least we know everything about our own box.

But what if the “box” is more than just a metaphor? As a church, we also have a physical box, our premises and programs. And while we invite others into our box to hear the Gospel of Jesus, we miss almost everyone who needs to hear the Good News because it’s hard to get people into the box.

To compare, think about what’s happened in the restaurant industry in the past several years: the food truck. We used to call it a “roach coach”, but now we see them everywhere, and they serve delicious food. There’s one called “Benaddiction” that serves amazing eggs benedict sandwiches and more. It’s so good, but I recently discovered that it is also a restaurant, far across town from me. Their restaurant “box” is terrific, but if they had not gotten out of it and into the truck, most of their customers would never have experienced their tasty menu.

The church, including ours, is poised to get out of the box. We’re not abandoning the box, but the next several months especially will give us some key opportunities to leave the comfort and familiarity of our box, and position ourselves to share Good News with those not here.

We’ll start with the BACK TO SCHOOL PARTY in Todd Beamer Park, Sunday, September 25. Rather than doing the Round-Up on site this year, let’s go to the neighborhood with a couple bounce houses, carnival games, food, fun and fellowship. Why? Because the community needs to know there’s a church here that loves them and wants to serve them. We have a great box, but we need to be present in the neighborhood.

Next, we’re going to have a series of opportunities with something called “City Serve”, part of the upcoming “Good News in the Valley” Luis Palau Festival in April 2017. Already, 127 Fresno/Clovis churches have committed to participate in this potentially city-changing event, serving and loving our city so as to open doors of opportunities in many lives.

Then on April 1-2, the Good News in the Valley festival will be an exciting weekend event of attractions, games, music, and of course, the gospel, as evangelist Luis Palau will be here. Even now, start to pray for those whom God has put in your life, that you can invite them to the festival and hear the good news.

Lives will change this year, and in the years to come, if we’ll get ourselves out of the box and onto the street. Are you ready to leave the box with me?

Pastor Brian Wiebe