Everything I Learned About Church Planting, I Learned from Silly Putty. ( And other 1980’s toys)


Yes. You heard me right. Silly Putty.

Remember it?

If not, I’ll loan you my six year old for a bit and you’ll quickly find it in every surrounding crevice and crack..including your beard if you have one…I don’t at the moment, but my husband does…

UnknownPLUS    images-1= Fun For Kids

I had actually forgotten how enjoyable that little red egg was to open. The kids on the package alone made me smile like I was six, and want to give into all my 1980’s urges.

One simple glance and episodes of Mork and Mindy ran back to back with Dukes of Hazard in my mind. Suddenly, I needed to head back to K-Mart for Bazooka gum and some Aqua-net Ozon-killing hairspray…And then it happened. Liberty took the glistening substance, (Which, by the way, looks much more like a human tongue than I remember!)  and stretched it across her body, just like I did at her age.

And it hit me…not the Silly Putty, but the thought…It hit me in full 1980’s stereo thought voice,  “Holy torpedo Batman…It’s so simple, yet so powerful!”

Silly Putty powerful?


It’s useful for…well…just being exactly what it is. 

It’s magical.

It’s incredible.

It’s so, so, very silly.

It’s so very simple…

And it’s so very much a part of my life once again.

If you pull it really fast it makes a funny snap sound.

If you press it flat and lay it across your daddy’s beard like my six year old just did, it makes worm-like imprints, causing said daddy to look funny all day long.

If you roll it in a long line you can cut it like imaginary cheese, and so.much. more!

But the best part about Liberty’s Silly Putty? It bounces me back to that delightful place where running half naked in the sprinklers is acceptable entertainment, silly string is not messy, and you can ALWAYS use your outside voice! Silly Putty lives in a powerfully simpler world where we enjoy things that cost less than a dollar with people we love.


And the analogy Here?…Where was I going with this?

Like Silly putty, no matter how you package it, there is nothing flashy or sexy about church planting. Nothing. Nada. Zip-O.

Even in Grease inspired leather pants, church planting manages to be pretty Grunge. We can fight the basic-ness of it, or we can just enjoy it for what it is with the people we love. Here are a few ground rules for enjoying your church plant…


  1. Fab. and magical things come in small, simple  packages. (ie. Little baby in a feeding trough)
  1. The more simple something is, the more we seem to enjoy it as humans. (ie. cardboard box, sunset, first kiss, praying with a friend, del taco bean and cheese burrito.)
  1. Don’t despise the day of small things. What did the day of great big, complicated things ever do for you? (Think Napoleon…now think Neapolitan ice-cream…nice?)
  1. Most amazing things look and feel weird at first…(ie. Dolphin skin, whoopee cushion).
  1. There are no rules for things that are already established as strange. (ie. Apostle Peter. Walking on water. You…yes you’re a bit weird. Admit it.)

So where do we go from here?

I was trying the other day to think why this dear ole Silly Putty had fallen out of favor with me. I’m not sure how it happened, but it seems I thought I was too mature at some point for it. Perhaps, I watched my friends enjoying more complicated toys and I thought I needed them as well. After all, I was as mature as they were wasn’t I?  So off I went to grander ideas. Realistic ideas like…you know…like…Flying Machines!

images-5Yes I was the kid that ordered one.

I remember the day my best friend Matt and I pooled all our money together to order our Flying Machine. That week I gathered all the gallon milk cartons our household of 11 had chugged down and I filled them all with water. We collected all the bread and candy we could and waited, sure that once our Flying Machine arrived, we’d fly away on the adventure of a lifetime.

One afternoon Matt placed a note in the apple tree bordering our two properties. It said the machine had arrived and he’d be over after our parents had gone to bed!!! I packed all my stuff, hid my gallons of Water behind my bedroom door and waited for his flashlight to shine through my window. Matt never came. Once he’d built the Flying Machine, he was too ashamed to come and get me. The thing hardly lifted off the ground.

It wasn’t all we had expected it to be.

The longer I am a part of God’s magnificently brokimages-4en global Church and Church Planting, the more this thought strikes me. Somewhere along the line, someone sold us ministry peeps a real-life… available only in the 80’s…FlyingMachine.

…and they trashed our authentic Silly Putty! Pooft. Gone.

They promised us this machine was so much more betterer than Silly Putty, and it an’t no scam neither.

They told us the bells and whistles were necessary for true success and off we tried to fly with no place to land. And this is where we are today as an American Church. This is why we are longing for the basics once again. Problem is, we’ve been trying to figure out how to program the big toys for so long, we are finding it hard just to enjoy the basic, simple beauty of being… The Church…

Remember just sitting with no agenda and no big plan, and enjoying God with people we love…for less than a dollar? Maybe we weren’t even in a building! (GASP)

Sounds kinda Silly doesn’t it?

No agenda? No overhead and bright lights bouncing off skinny Jeans? NO FLYING MACHINE?????

Nope…It’s really not been that impressive. It’s not been all we thought it was going to be…

Our kids are on drugs and want nothing to do with the church.

Our marriages are falling apart.

Our computer History would make a John Wayne’s bar tender blush.

The beds of our 2,000+congregations are hot with other people’s partners, and their Bibles are cold.

…and in the background a useless machine hovers just barely above ground.

Silly Putty People. That’s what we need. The basic stuff.

Remember learning how to pray into one another’s marriages? The honesty?

Remember time for family devotions?

Remember knowing the names of each child in your church community and their illnesses?

Remember sitting down to care..and be cared for?

And best of all, remember not being ashamed by the saying, “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another”?

Remember when we were growing, with the people around us, toward a genuinely maturing 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love?

I do…I was nine and impacted for life.

It was a little Church Plant in Fountain Valley in the 1980’s. My family made up 3/4 of the 20 person congregation. I was discipled just by being at church…and It didn’t even have a sunday school! IMAGINE THAT. 

My family and I didn’t all go our separate directions once we got through the church doors…cause basically there was no other place to go. We walked into one little room and worshiped, and talked, and sung, and cried and laughed…and said our sorry…and grew…all together.

I learned how to worship by watching my burly, barefooted brother-in law raise his hands high, while tears fell down his face. I learned how to listen to a sermon, while watching my older sister take notes…We were no more perfect when we walked out the door than when we walked in, but we had a cross to lean on. Together. And we knew what we just enjoyed was awesomeness to the core.

Basically, we had just sat and enjoyed God without needing all the bells and whistles. Like my daughter sits now on the driveway with her Silly Putty.

No flying machine necessary.

Remember that church planter.

Remember that. When your sound dies, your sunday school teacher dies, and your donuts are stale cause you’re broke and you had to go dumpster diving in the morning before the service. (Shhh, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.)

Remember what really makes the church so Awesome.

When there is something as real and authentic as Silly Putty, all else seems a silly substitute.

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