The Creative Punt

Sometimes, you just don’t have the right “stuff” to do what you want to do. How do you react to that painful reality? You have several options:

  • Find the right “stuff” and proceed.
  • Quit trying, since you don’t have what you need.
  • Get angry or depressed, because you don’t have what you need.
  • Improvise, make the most of what you’ve got, and then do it whether you’ve got the right stuff or not.

One of the most important skills that I learned from my mother is the fine art of the Creative Punt. Creative Punting is a strange mix of wisdom, knowledge, improvisation, and intestinal fortitude (“guts”) that tends to make seemingly impossible things happen. My Mom was a master at “making do.” She always told me that, if I waited until I had everything I needed to start something, I’d never get started. I don’t know if she realized that her instruction was based on a scriptural foundation, but Ecclesiastes 11:4 addresses this issue. I like the way it reads in the Living Bible: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

I’ve seen a lot of people who understand the Creative Punt, and have been out on the cutting edge, doing things that everyone said they weren’t equipped to do. Whether it’s a church reaching an “unreachable” segment of their community, or a broadcast ministry working with not quite enough facility, there’s one remarkable common thread that runs through Creative Punters. Somehow, they always seem to make the impossible happen.

I’m reminded of a visit to a fledgling Christian TV station in the Pittsburgh area back in the early ’70’s. WPCB-TV, Channel 40, was definitely a member of the Creative Punting club. To the eye of many professional broadcasters, they were simply undercapitalized, and they didn’t have nearly the facilities needed to make a TV station work. The building was tiny and cramped, with the transmitter, video tape and film equipment, master control, and a couple of offices in the same room – a room that had been designed to hold the transmitter alone. The Audio booth was in a closet upstairs somewhere, there was a tiny little studio, and there were people practically walking on each other everywhere I turned. This was definitely “no-frills TV.”

So, what do you suppose this ill-equipped, forward-looking Christian TV ministry decided to do? Local News – in Pittsburgh! It was impossible, but it was the Lord’s direction, so they did it, whether they were equipped for it or not. On the afternoon that I was there, I witnessed one of their live newscasts. I saw people scrambling, making one machine do the work of two and one person the work of three. The anchor was introducing a taped segment, and the tape operator had rolled the big, outdated 2″ videotape recorder, waiting for it to come up to speed and “lock” the picture, as the director counted down. It was just one second before air, the picture was still rolling and jumping, when the tape operator stepped back, pointed at the machine, and firmly said “LOCK UP, IN JESUS’ NAME!” Just as the director pushed the button that placed the tape on-air, it locked – and it stayed locked until one second after the segment ended. To the viewers, it was smooth as silk. The operator never blinked. He rewound the tape, quickly set up the next segment, and moved on. It was just another average day at the station!

After the tour, and looking over the facilities, I remember commenting to the founder of that ministry that it it had to be God doing a great work through this station – they didn’t have the equipment to do it on their own!

Today, WPCB, Channel 40, is still ministering to Pittsburgh. So is sister station WKBS, Channel 47. There isn’t any local news on the schedule, but Cornerstone TV is still doing the Creative Punt with a lineup of locally produced programs that have helped to define – and re-define – the possibilities for Christian TV. Cornerstone is distributing programming nationwide on their satellite network, and they’re still trying to find out if there’s anything that God can’t do if you trust Him enough to follow His lead – even if you DON’T have “all the stuff you need.”

Now, just imagine what a void there would be if someone way back then would have said, “Aw, we can’t do that!”

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