I have heard this verse all my life and, until recently, never really understood what it meant:
Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. Ecclesiastes 11:1–2 (ESV)
The new NIV probably over-translates and goes into interpretation. However, I think the interpretation is right:
Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. Ecclesiastes 11:1–2 (NIV2011)
Warren Wiersbe agrees with this interpretation:
“Cast thy bread upon the waters” may be paraphrased, “Send out your grain in ships.” — Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 127.
It is verse 2 that I would like to draw your attention to: invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight. My paraphrase: try all kinds of stuff. Keep what works. Discard what doesn’t. If you keep on doing what you been doing, you will keep on getting what you been getting.
Most churches are plateaued or declining. If that is true of your church, try something different. Do something different. Do lots of things different.
Churches need to be research and development labs. We need to try all kinds of things—at least seven!