This last week a number of our staff had a chance to hang out with Dave Stone. Dave is the Senior Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. He shared with us a true story that has really got me to thinking.
The story he told was of a farmer in Bruno, Nebraska, named Herman Ostry. Apparently, Herman bought a farm that had a barn on the property that was built in the 1920’s. The barn was in pretty good shape but was constructed on a really bad site on the farm. It was located next to a creek and whenever it would rain the water from the creek would rise and fill his barn with over two feet of water. He quickly realized that the barn was therefore useless.
He decided to find out what it would cost to have the barn commercially moved to a higher spot on his land. The bid came back, but the price was simply out of the question.
One of his sons set out to calculate the actual weight of the barn. He estimated that it was somewhere just less than 16,000 pounds. How could you move such a weighty object? His son did some more math and figured that if you could put some sort of metal frame around it, and if you could get enough people to help, you could possibly move it by hand. The son estimated that the frame would add a little over 3000 pounds to the total weight. How many people would then be required to move it? Again, doing the math, he calculated that just under 350 people would be required if each were able lift somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 pounds each.
So one day, sitting around their dinner table, they began to ask themselves where they could get 350 people who would be willing to help. Realizing that the town would soon be coming together for their centennial celebration, he decided to pitch the idea and see if they couldn’t get a bunch of people to commit to give it a shot.
The rest of the story is, as they say, history. They did get enough people to commit to help and so they constructed a frame that would allow 344 people to take a hold. Some of these people were assigned a spot inside the barn, others were given a spot outside the barn. People were everywhere!
They did, in fact, succeed in moving the barn and were able to relocate it right where Herman wanted it. Together they moved the barn 115 feet south, and six feet uphill. After it was all done, Herman’s wife, Donna, said something very interesting. As she reflected on the day she said the greatest accomplishment wasn’t getting the people to give it a try (although that was incredible), and it wasn’t even that they were able to move it (which was no small feat), but rather that in moving it, they were able to coordinate all these people working together to change the direction the barn was actually facing. In other words, getting people to work together to move it in the direction it was facing was huge; getting them to agree to work together to reorient its direction was an even higher accomplishment.
Now… and this is the part I don’t want you to miss. All the above was witnessed by over 4000 people who came simply to observe the attempt! They didn’t want or plan on helping, rather they came just to watch. Perhaps to critique? Perhaps to criticize? Perhaps to mock?
So… this raises a very important question. Of the nearly 4500 people who were involved, who had the most fun? Who had the greatest sense of accomplishment? Who went to bed that night knowing they had made a difference? Only those who did the lifting!
This is such a lesson for the church!!!
1 Corinthians 12:7 tells us,
“The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.”
We are all gifted. We are all able. We are all called to take a spot and do our part to make a difference. Sadly, many choose instead to just watch by standing on the sidelines and thus miss out on the fun of working together.
Who wants to be in this group of spectators? I know I don’t. I doubt you do either.
Are you ready and willing to do some heavy lifting and join alongside others who want nothing more than to get the church moving??? Do you have any idea where we can take this church if we will simply work together?