I have no idea when it happened, but some time over the last thirty years we, where we are the people of the Christian community, have managed to convince ourselves that we need a 'resource' in order to do anything.
It's been quite a handy thing for me since, having never used someone else's resource in my life without completely redesigning it, I have spent some of my ministry selling the things I have already done to the Christian market so others could do them too. I even sold a book twice by rewriting it in a different order and, get this, the people who paid me the second time knew that was what I had done.
Still, I have no truck with resources. Jonny Baker used to be fond of telling people that only 5% of people ever have an original idea. I think he might have got that from the same place that I got '67.3% of all statistics are made up', but we'll let it pass. Come to think of it that was another Johnny, the Vegas one.
Later I heard h-less Jonny say that originality is forgetting where you found something. So I guess we can add him to the list of self-deprecators we know.
My point, my point? Ah yes. If you need a resource then there are plenty about. I've no idea how you tell which one to use but I want to pass on this bit of wisdom. When faced with a group you want to train, a problem you want to solve or an idea you want to generate, try and have a go yourself first as if no resource exists. We all hate preachers who have read every commentary and background book but not the Bible passage. We all recognise guys wearing badly fitting off the peg suits. Likewise it is easy to see through the person who has bought a resource that is not quite the best fit and then they train a group in not quite the right thing.
Talk to some people who are stakeholders. Find out what the problem really is and what sort of solution people might buy into. Use space, prayer and tea as your main tools here.
Write up an idea for an answer and see if people can add to it, tweak it or bounce off it. Be open. Leave ideas up in the air and accept lots of contributions.
Assume that the wisdom to solve the problem might be in the room rather than the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE), for now.
When staffing the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) stand at CRE a wise old sales manager (Hi Clive) taught me a great open question to use to greet people who visited our stand. It was 'What area of ministry are you looking to resource today?' It took me into many fine conversations but also helped me to point people who were on the wrong stand, seeking something we did not sell, to a more likely source of help. Their only memory of CPAS will be that a nice young man (I was then. Young I mean; I'm still nice) saved them wasting time.
But if you spend a good chunk of time detailing what you need you will always stop short of buying an inadequate resource marked 'Ready to use'. It will only be ready to use if your situation matches exactly the one the writers envisaged. And you may realise that you can fix the problem yourself. Then you save money and everyone feels better about not needing help.
Steve Tilley's book 'How to avoid buying unnecessary resources' has been remaindered.