Conventional wisdom is a potent force. When you are starting something conventional wisdom can be a drag on your big, wild ideas. It always feels safer to be surrounded by others; so safe, in fact, that we might sacrifice truth in exchange for the company. We often experience this tension as a new church. Surprisingly, there aren't many models in the church world to inspire us to step out from the safety of the CW. Churches, unlike their founder Jesus the Christ, are notorious copycats. We talk about "being radical", like our founder Jesus the Christ, but we shrink when we discover that radically different churches or faith communities are usually small and don't appear to have the trappings of "success" as defined by the world.
Thankfully there are some other places we can look for inspiration. One such place is Pulaski Academy in Central Arkansas. The football team, led by coach Kevin Kelley won the Arkansas 5A state championship last year and has won 100 games this decade while defying conventional football wisdom. Here is a sample of their approach from a recent Sports Illustrated article:
Pulaski hasn't punted since 2007 (when it did so as a gesture of sportsmanship in a lopsided game), and here's why: "The average punt in high school nets you 30 yards, but we convert around half our fourth downs, so it doesn't make sense to give up the ball," Kelley says. "Besides, if your offense knows it has four downs instead of three, it totally changes the game. I don't believe in punting and really can't ever see doing it again."
They also attempt an onside kick after almost every touchdown. Kelley's unconventional approach is supported by the numbers. When he examined the probabilities related to 4th down attempts or onside kicks he realized that the masses where wrong. That was the easy part. The hard part was coaching in light of the truth instead of the conventional wisdom.