Setting an Invitational Culture the Roger Bannister Approach
So often I hear church leader and lay people coming to my Seminars with the thought “We’ll see if it works”. The phrase refers to the need for a successful initiative. But the thinking behind it almost hints at doubt and unbelief. For many of us growing up in the church in our generation we have not seen people in congregations inviting their friends to church. They’ve never seen it work before. It is a brand new experience. It leads us to think. Is it really possible to become an invitational church? Doubt is not a bad thing, we all have it to some measure in our lives, but we counteract doubt with faith. We invite with faith. Faith is almost childlike when you believe you can get what you want. Watch a five year old telling you they are jumping miles in the air, when they have just jumped from a step. They are having a great time. They are going into their rich imagination. To set an invitational culture we need to believe we can get what we want but more like a child than an adult. Many of us are skeptical we have lost the wonderful child like faith and trust, the child like enthusiasm, our curiosity. The child like ability to think we can do anything. In 1954 it was common knowledge that it was not possible to run a mile in under 4 minutes. It was believed that scientifically, the human body was just not capable of moving this quickly. The record of 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds had withstood for 9 years since 1945.That was until 24 year old Roger Bannister came along. Driven by his unnerving belief in himself and his abilities as a runner, Roger was determined to prove the critics wrong and beat the 4 minute mile record. On 6th May, 1954 Bannister did just that and ran a mile in 3 minutes and 54 seconds.Now what’s interesting about this story is not that Roger broke the record – but what was to follow. 2 months later, 2 more runners broke the 4 minute mile. And within a very short period of time, more and more people broke the ‘4 minute mile’ myth.But what had changed? Scientifically , nothing had changed in terms of human performance. There were no new techniques or specialist skills that could be attributed to this enormous leap in performance.The only thing that had changed was the ‘belief’ of what was possible. You see, when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile record, he also broke down the boundaries of what people believed to be possible. And this is why so many other runners, also very quickly beat the 4 minute mile after that first win in 1954. They now believed it was possible for them too. Setting an invitational culture needs the same childlike unnerving belief.