Church Planting Bible Translators needs a mascot! One of us once suggested a mash-up of two animals for a logo. But isn’t this the question we’ve been asking: why stitch together two beasts when one beautiful creature will do? Here are seven curious, warm-blooded contenders:
- There’s the zebra-giraffe, native to the rainforests of Central Africa: the Okapi.
- Of course, the duck-beaver, the egg-laying, venomous-spurred, electro-sensing icon of Australia: the Platypus.
- The bear-cat, hailing from South and Southeast Asia and already mascot of several U.S. universities: the Binturong.
- The elephant-pig, which, according to oriental folklore, eats people’s nightmares: the Tapir.
- The goat-antelope, national animal of Bhutan and what one biologist likened to a “bee-stung moose”: the Takin.
- And the snake-anteater, which rolls up its scaly self and withstands lion attacks: the Pangolin.
But perhaps the one that suits CTBP best is the Sengi. This shrew-like mammal has the trunk of an elephant and the bound of a rabbit.
The sengi may be the closest thing to what one church planter suggested in jest: an elephabbit (my family preferred the name “rabbiphant” when surveyed over dinner), with rapid reproduction, low maintenance and massive strength.
The reproductive behavior of elephants and rabbits are compared in an analogy used by CPM practitioners: Put two elephants in a room together and in three years you may have one baby elephant; put two rabbits together in a room for the same amount of time… (Small Is Big!: Unleashing the Big Impact of Intentionally Small Churches). The idea is that large, complex things are difficult to reproduce. But this analogy may misconstrue the point of biblical church planting, as BHM wrote at CTBP. Besides, to make such a creature out of elephants and rabbits would be an indignity to both (not to mention the breeder).
Ironically, sengis are classified with elephants, not with shrews and rabbits. But that’s stretching the metaphor far enough.