Optical illusions: What do you see?

Church leaders need to analyze carefully both the good and bad trends in their congregations. They need to do more than superficially diagnose situations

Church health studies: These two optical illusions are visual reminders of the dangers of making snap decisions based on what we think we are seeing

Do you see a young woman or an old lady?

This drawing titled "My wife and my mother-in-law" was published in 1915 by cartoonist W.E. Hill. It was likely adapted from a more detailed German postcard engraving printed in 1880.

drawing in which
people can see either a pretty young  girl or ugly old woman

Some have called this design or sketch "the old hag and the beautiful young lady." This optical illusion reminds us that many things we observe in a local church can be interpreted in more than one way. Don't think that because of your position, experience, and qualifications, your initial analysis of a congregation is the only way to evaluate it. An optical illusion like this is a way of reminding us to beware of "the fog" that Donald McGavran talked about, which often hinders church leaders from comprehending what is really going on in terms of the health of a congregation. So, train yourself to question how you interpret what you see in the life of a congregation and its ministry context. Be willing to modify your initial perception.

How many squares can you count?

many squares do you see?

Solving this brain teaser takes patience, a reminder that reflective analysis of a church takes time. This will also point out highlight our often less-than-perfect powers of observation. That's important to keep in mind when we are analyzing a congregation, as well as the fact that our knowledge is often incomplete ( For example, what constitutes a square?).

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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