Erica Hamence opens our series of 16 days of prayer against Domestic & Family Violence - Foundations for Christian Action by reminding us that we pray because our God has promised to transform the world.
Designing Kingdom Impact - Lessons from a Human Cannonball
If the Christian church is going to participate in helping to eradicate Domestic and Family Violence in our communities then we must stop leaning on our own understanding.
'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.'
A colleague of mine tells the story of meeting John, a blond haired, blue-eyed Flash look alike. John was a retired human cannonball.
My colleague asked John why he no longer shot himself into the sky? John told the story of how he would prepare for his act every night. He would drive his truck into the big top before the crowds arrived. He’d point the cannon in the appropriate direction and load in a dummy that was approximately the same size and weight as he was. He would launch the dummy, see where it landed and that is the spot where the safety net was erected. It was a simple assumption – “if the dummy weighs the same as I do then wherever it lands is where I will land and that’s where the net should go”.
One night the circus arrived at a new location during a thunderstorm. It was raining too hard to set everything up and test where the dummy should go. Instead, it was left outside overnight as torrential rains blanketed the area. The dummy absorbed a significant amount of water. The next morning, before the crowds arrived, John the human cannonball did what he always did. Drove the truck into the big top, aimed the cannon, loaded the dummy and fired. The dummy flew, landed and the net was erected. That evening, John got in the cannon in front of 3500 spectators and launched himself as he’d done dozens of times before. This time was different though. The dummy, soaked with water, was significantly heavier than John weighed. This became evident as John soared well past the safety net and crash-landed on the circus lot floor. “Needless to say that was my last flight,” John concluded.
When it comes to creating Kingdom Impact, we would do well to think about the assumptions we often make. Just because something was true yesterday, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true today. Things change – sometimes without us even noticing – and that change can have a significant impact on our effectiveness.
The question is are we going to wait for some tragic occurrence to learn that things have changed or are we being intentional about basing our decisions on God’s leading and not on our assumptions.
Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
If the Christian church is going to participate in helping to eradicate Domestic and Family Violence in our communities then we must stop assuming and leaning on our own understanding. There are just too many churches working in isolation from one another, which leads me to my second point. Trusting God requires a humble posture and a collaborative spirit.
Kingdom-centred design is a collaborative problem solving approach. It’s a creative process that starts with the people we are called to help and ends with innovative new solutions designed for them to thrive under God's reign. When it comes to designing Kingdom-centred impact I have found these principles most helpful:
- Design and innovate with a common goal. That means coming together before God to collectively define the problem and create a shared vision to solve it. The Lord commands a blessing when there is unity. Psalm 133
- If you want greater impact then be prepared to serve the greater good. Jesus put it like this: Leave your ninety-nine first before pursuing the lost one. The most effective way to find the lost one is to join a search party. That means joining with a bunch of different people with different experiences for the same strategic purpose. Matt 18:12
- Empathise with the people you are designing solutions for. Romans 12:15
- Resist talk fests that have no real outcomes. Be prepared to build the 747 airplane as you fly it. Agree to track progress in the same way, which allows for continuous improvement. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
- Include your church and community members in the collaboration. You will fuel the potential for growth and ultimately get better outcomes this way. Proverbs 27:17
- Encourage continuous communication. Build a culture that fosters relationships, trust, and respect across participants. Philippians 2:3-4
- Be curious, lean into the chaos and be open to divine disruptions. Remember though, divine interruptions find you, you don’t find them. Acts 16:6-10
- Always check your most basic assumptions. Proverbs 18:2
- Remember whose church it actually is. Colossians 1:17–18
All of these principles together can produce extraordinary results taking us from isolated ineffectiveness to Kingdom-centred impact.
Take time today to reflect and pray through how the church in Australia is being called to be an advocate in this moment. What would a courageous, convicted and compassionate church look like? How is God calling you to be part of the response to domestic & family violence in your context?