The Rules Make the Game
To prepare, you'll need a few inflated balloons -- and to gird yourself for the improvisation required!
Let’s play a game! Everyone knows how to play this game. All you have to do is get this balloon to the back of the room as fast as you can! Go!
Several plants in the congregation interrupt play, and improv a bit. Each time play is interrupted the balloon comes back to the front of the room and play starts over. For example:
- Oh, wait, wait—don’t you know the rules? The balloon can’t touch the floor.
- Oh, wait, wait—don’t you know? You can’t carry the balloon.
- Oh, wait, wait—don’t you know? At least 6 people have to touch the balloon.
- Oh, wait, wait—don’t you know? You’ve got to alternate sides at least 3 times.
- Oh, wait, wait, don’t you know? You’ve got to make sure someone from every age group touches the balloon.
OK, point made: It’s no fun to play a game when not everyone knows the same ground rules. Have you ever tried to play a game when you didn’t know all the rules?
Or have you tried to play a game when a person suddenly decides to make up a new one or just not follow the ones that had been agreed upon?
A game's rules allow for playful, creative fun within the boundaries of the field or the board or the video screen. It’s the rules of the game that allow for equal participation.
Even if you're playing a cooperative games – games that aren’t competitive, where people work toward the same goal – everybody has to work together to win together. But there are still rules.
Think about our congregational life as a playful, cooperative game. What helps us know and understand the goals, the expectations, the boundaries of that game?
We have a goal—to live out our mission as best as we can. It would be super-easy if one person could just pick up the balloon and run it to the back of the room. But where’s the fun in that?
So we have guidelines and agreements about how we will be together, and how we will play together towards the fulfillment of that mission. Our congregational covenant, as well as other aspects of our organization, helps us play the game. Our covenant provides clear enough boundaries, transparently communicated so every one knows, to get us moving together towards the same goal, flexible enough to allow for creativity along the way.
Let’s try our balloon game again with one simple rule: to get the balloon to the back of the room without it touching the floor, with maximum participation, without carrying it.
And let’s play on!