I’ve been thinking about by-products.
You know that when you do things there’s waste. When you cut down a tree for the wood, there’s sawdust left. When you wash your car, you have dirty water left. When you cook ground beef, you have fat left over.
There’s a couple ways to deal with this fact.
You can find a way to get rid of the waste and regard it as just a garbage, or you can find something useful to do with it.
In the case of the dirty water from washing your car, you can use it to water your plants; it turns out they like dirt. When I was growing up, there was a guy in my neighborhood who often washed his car with it parked on his grass, so that the dirty water watered his lawn. That’s recycling in action. The water didn’t go to a treatment plant to become “gray water,” it just fell on the parched Kentucky grass, preventing this guy from watering his grass as much as he would have.
The lumber industry figured out some time ago that they could simply turn sawdust into something useful and then instead of waste, they had a product to sell. This is what MDF (medium density fiberboard) is. Start with sawdust, add a bonding agent, and viola you have something that people can use. That’s something entirely different.
If you throw away waste, it costs money. If you reuse it, you save money. If you sell it, you make money.
I started thinking about this in relation to this video (the camera work and audio aren’t great, so keep that in mind):
Jason Fried is really good at this. His company wrote a book on doing business as a by-product of doing business. They created “Ruby on Rails” as a by-product of creating web-apps.
This got me thinking.
What could we, the Church, do with the by-products of doing ministry?
Sure, some pastors write books. The Purpose Driven Church was written from Rick Warren’s experience at Saddleback. Axiom is all about Bill Hybels’ experience at Willowcreek. I could go on, but you get the point.
What about the videos we make every week?
What about the print pieces we make to advertise the upcoming series?
What about the layout of the bulletins?
What about the process of making any of those things?
I think Lifechurch.tv is great at this. It’s not just a link on their site, but a major piece of their strategy to distribute things that have already been created.
I’m trying to do this myself, but never had language to describe it before I saw the Jason Fried video. I’ve written two books now from the experiences I’ve had with the tech stuff I like (podcasting and Twitter). I just uploaded a background I made for a wedding I just did onto Vimeo. I’m trying to reuse talks I’ve given in the past as webinars. As I learn something, I’m trying to whip out a quick screencast on how I did it. I love this idea of reusing and making something of by-products.
What about you?
What by-products do you have that you can do something useful with?
What are some other ideas for creating something instead of just throwing it away?