re:missional is a blog about re:thinking, re:working, re:imagining missions ~ a missions blog from a re:formers point of view

January 6, 2014

this is our football: form and function

I love to create, well, build might be a better word.

The idea of bringing to life something that exists only in the mind is exciting, isn't it?

Over the years I have had many opportunities to create in a variety of media: concrete, steel, and wood; but more than anything I love to make furniture.


Sawhorse desk I made for JamieTheVWM
Because furniture is amazing.
Think about it.
You buy a piece of furniture because it will look good in your space or it matches your style, but you need to know it works as well so you ask yourself:

Will that sofa be comfortable?

Can those bookshelves hold all my books?

Will these chairs support the weight of a slightly overweight guy who is really more big-boned than fat and even though he is pushing 40 it is really more like baby-fat than anything else and besides he is working really hard at getting back into shape?

While the look of a piece of furniture makes an impact on the senses, it only “works” if it functions well.

Coffee table in steel and wood with "floating" top

However the true purpose of a piece of furniture, one that is well-designed at least, is to have a pleasing form AND a useful function. It is a process that involves a deep understanding of the intended use of the finished product while at the same time crafting it in a way that is beautiful and appeals to the masses. Unfortunately it is all too easy to get either the form or the function right, but not both.

Even though we intuitively know that form and function should be united as one, we need to start the process of design somewhere, but where?

When we lived in Costa Rica you would see these big plush looking sofas in every furniture store. They looked like they had bunch of foam and padding because they had giant buttons sewn in to the cushions to "show" the softness. These things looked like giant pillows and every time I went to sit down I had dreams that I would doze off as if floating on a cloud, but as soon as my butt would touchdown I was jolted back to reality.

The sofas weren't soft,they weren't even comfortable. I'm not sure they even had foam inside. Regardless of their appearance they were actually hard as a rock. We even had this one sofa that had a wooden support right at the front edge of the cushion so your legs would go numb after about 15 minutes, seriously numb, but at least it looked soft, right?


Who cares what it looked like, it put my legs to sleep. It didn't work.

Since then, in an effort to avoid dead legs, I always begin my design process looking at the function while keeping the form in mind.

I know you get it, I'm not really talking about furniture. I'm actually talking about about missions, specifically the missions department at my church, but its important to begin at the beginning. All too often we jump into things without thinking about why. We do things “that” way because they've always been done “that” way, but that means we are tied to our model and leaving ourselves susceptible to drifting away from our mission.

Now I need to warn you that the following is pretty cliche, but have you ever heard how the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi began his tenure with the Green Bay Packers? He gathered all his players and coaches around him and retaught them, or perhaps taught them the basics. He didn't assume that these guys, the best of the best, knew anything. He talked about the field and how it was laid out, the roles of the individual players and coaches, he even picked up the ball and said,

“This is a football.”

We are called to be salt and light to the world.
We are called to love the poor and powerless, the lost and lonely.
We are called to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
This is our football.

steve wright

Speak Up!

Over the next few weeks I will share the process we have gone through to determine the form and function of our outreach program. I would love to know what you think. What do you do? Why do you do it? 

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Coming Soon!