The MacGyver Way of Seeing

Quincy Brown


The MacGyver Way of Seeing
Does the name Angus “Mac” MacGyver ring a bell? If you remember 80s television, you might recognize the MacGyver TV series. During the series, MacGyver saw the world around him as one full of possibilities and solutions.
He’s assigned an impossible mission (not to be confused with the Tom Cruise franchise) in every episode. Unlike James Bond or James West from the Wild, Wild West, the popular 60s western science fiction action series, MacGyver didn’t have “cool toys.” Instead, he carried a Swiss army knife and duct tape!
What he lacked in tech, he made up with his ability to see hidden possibilities. To him, the world was full of problem-solving tools. Discarded objects like broken shoelaces, paper clips, pocket lint, and bottle caps were potential tools. Faced with certain death every week, MacGyver used the stuff around him to survive and fulfill his mission. He received grace in messy moments.
What would it look like if your church saw the world as a treasure chest of tinker toys instead of bits and pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit? MacGyver had a different way of seeing the world. MacGyver’s vision began with what’s real instead of what’s ideal. How many times have you heard statements like, “We could grow if we had a youth or children’s director to bring in families with children?” Or, perhaps, you’ve thought, “If only we had more money, more people, and more participation, things would be better.” Statements like these depend on ideal situations and not what’s present around us.
Like Fred G. Sanford from the Sanford & Son TV series, MacGyver holds on to what others might see as junk. He doesn’t filter out anything. Everything is useful to him, including materials, skills, relationships, and access. He sees connections and patterns between various elements, which will be valuable for his immediate situation. What can we learn from MacGyver by starting with what is, rather than what isn’t?
I’m not suggesting that every church develops a MacGyver figure who works alone to see and connect the whole community’s gifts. Instead, we need the entire congregation to see and act like MacGyver!  We need to discover our inner-MacGyvers even if it feels like we’re making it up as we go!
During the pandemic, it seems that every church is trying to figure out how to offer meaningful worship. Some people are concerned that people will get too comfortable worshipping in their PJs at home and may not return. Still, others are concerned that people leave their church to attend another one across town that’s meeting in-person. Finally, there’s a percentage of people who aren’t attending church at all. There are several reasons for their absence, but I can’t help but wonder if one reason is that they don’t feel the church is relevant to their lives. What’s keeping new members out and making members stop following an experience that isn’t practical or connected to their day-to-day lives?
There is an answer with Good News! There is an overarching theme to what people outside the church are seeking. People are looking for life: what it is and how they can find it. How might your congregation develop MacGyver’s vision to see what’s present in our midst and how you can offer life to people? How might we use our resources to help people with their genuine struggles? Are there discarded resources right in front of you that seemed cluttered on the surface that you can creatively couple to help you accomplish your mission? How might you discover grace in your congregation’s messy moments?
Churches that are struggling don’t have to if they will take the courage, patience, and time to do the work of taking a deep dive into its culture. If your church wants to know more, I offer a process called the 3D-Journey that can help you. Check out to learn more.  

On the Journey,

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