I’m not sure when you last jumped on a trampoline, but my hunch is, unless you are 8 years old and reading this blog, its probably been a while. A while back, I read a great book, Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell. In the book, Bell creates this great metaphor for the Christian faith being like an experience of jumping on a trampoline. Bell writes: “Some people’s faith is like a trampoline ~ it bends & flexes & moves… for others, their faith is like a wall of bricks ~ pull one out to examine it, and the whole thing becomes unstable & threatens to crumble….”
Bell explains that when we go about building walls in Christianity, you become a brick builder instead of someone who jumps on a trampoline: “..for them, faith isn’t a trampoline; it’s a wall of bricks. Each of the core doctrines for them is like an individual brick that stacks on top of the others. If you pull one out, the whole wall starts to crumble. It appears quite strong and rigid, but if you begin to rethink or discuss even one brick, the whole thing is in danger.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot in my new job. See, as a pastor now, I think of myself as a trampoline jumper and not so much a bricklayer. I want to know truth, and I like strengthening things, but I so much more want to see people EXPERIENCE faith instead of simply collect facts and data and doctrine. Don’t get me wrong, my issue isn’t knowledge, its just that without the joy of jumping, the knowledge of the Christian faith never becomes transformative. And when I read the bible, the narrative that God gave us as a road map of how to seek truth in this world, I see much more trampline jumpers than bricklayers. When you look at Jesus, he spoke so often in parables, profoundly for this reason. Jesus was confident correct beliefs were formed through their experiences. Christ wasn’t so concerned with how people thought, he wanted to know how they lived.
So for my 36th birthday, Heather blessed me with a trampoline. And since that day in September, we have jumped every day. If its been a while since you’ve been on a trampoline, let me assure you, it is absolutely hilarious. You can’t help but smile and laugh and giggle as you bounce up and down. And since I’ve been jumping every day, I understand more of Bell’s illustration. Bell continues with the metaphor of the trampoline here: “…one of the things that happens in ‘brickworld’: you spend a lot of time talking about how right you are. Which of course leads to how wrong everybody else is. Which then leads to defending the wall… you rarely defend a trampoline. You invite people to jump on it with you.”
So, as we start our new church in Shoreline, we’re encouraging people to jump. And as God brings more and more people along for the ride, and more and more people who haven’t been walking with God lately, we tell them, “Welcome, we look forward to jumping with you.” My hope is for the people in our congregation to be a healthy bunch of trampoline jumpers, whose joy and love that comes from knowing God changes everything about them.