Lessons from the Lego expo

Last weekend my family went to our first ever [insert fandom descriptor here]-con. For four hours we meandered around an exhibit hall, looking at everything God has ever made re-created with Legos. It was pretty amazing. There were entire downtowns. Moon bases, along with all the vehicles needed to reach them. Rube Goldberg machines. Assault weaponry. (Not my favorite, but works of art nonetheless.) Famous monuments. Celebrity portraits. All of these designs were made exclusively with tiny bricks, with the exception of a few stickers and motorized parts.

It struck me that there were some takeaways from Brickfest with applications for ministry, and I’m not just talking about the Lego Jerusalem temple that took up multiple tables.

Pay attention to the big picture and the minutiae. Depending on the personalities involved, it’s easy to default to one or the other, yet both are needed. Master builders must be able to see the brickwork on the side of one building, but in the context of the whole cityscape. Otherwise parts of the design will get out of proportion or the Legos will run out. The same is true for a congregation’s vision and its resources.

Sometimes you need just the right piece, but at other times several different bricks might do. There are so many different kinds of Legos, and I’m not just talking bricks. There are plants, cups, hats, ladders, fire, and goodness knows how many more kinds of accessories. For some design aspects, one particular piece in that certain color will add to the overall aesthetic, just like it’s important to get lay leaders into roles that align with their gifts and call. In other areas, a range of pieces – or people – could work.

Show as much of your work as you can. Transparency is essential to trust, which is a key to good ministry relationships. In the world of Legos, it’s easy to see what kind of and how many bricks were used in a design. Of course, there are always a few hidden threads – no one needs to know that the innards of your Lincoln Monument are red and green! – just as there are occasions when not every parishioner has to see how the ministry mettwurst is made.

Make ministry modular. Massive Lego creations have to be movable, so they are built in big chunks. Encourage your people to make their ministry portable as well so that the good news of God’s love travels far.

Know when to be serious and when to inject humor. While a Harley Quinn minifig would not have been the most appropriate choice to mill around the Lego temple, I took great delight in finding Batmen and Unikitties strategically placed in a downtown Nashville scene. Likewise, well-timed humor can bring a sense of play into an otherwise (too?) serious meeting or service.

Big projects take time, but the rewards are great. Some of the displays took no less than a year to create. Yet instead of sharing this fact ruefully, the builders took great pride in their investment. In the world of church, we often get bogged down in the length of our projects and processes. What if we could accept the timeline and – gasp! – enjoy the ride?

I wonder how we as ministry leaders might bring in actual Legos to our worship, work, and play to come to new awareness of these truths and to open up our thinking to new ways of being disciples. I think this would bring delight to our ultimate Master Builder.

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