Dan Webster, way former youth Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, was a speaker at the youth camp we conducted for Skyline Youth Ministries. He shared an insightful comment I have yet to forget. He told us, “The natural flow of life is down.”
This is so true. Muscles left to themselves atrophy. Gardens do not naturally stay tended. Lawns do not remain cut, trimmed, lush green and dandelion free. Car oil gets grimier not cleaner. People do not stay fit. Churches do not easily keep externally focused, evangelistically passionate, nor spiritual fit. Why? The natural flow of life is down!
We resist this reality. We want to get ourselves, our homes, our churches to a point and trust they will remain there. Seldom does this happen. Each may maintain for a time, but the end result will be down. We compensate for this by defining effectiveness as a `slower downward spiral.’ Or as Zig Ziglar wrote, “Even a dead fish can swim downstream.” We can get so discouraged in our ministry that we will take any kind of movement, even if it’s down. But not all movements are helpful, many are hurtful.
Earthquakes are often the result of a shift (movement) of land plates. This is movement, but not the most beneficial. What are some movements that might hurt?
Moving from being consumed by Christ to a consumer of Chris: We help lead a person into a consuming relationship with Christ. They grow in their understanding of Christ and the life changing faith needed to mature…then it happens, what our community of faith provides is not enough. They are not being fed. They need something for their kids, or parents. So they make the trek to a more “full-service” body. They have moved from being consumed by Christ to being a consumer of Christ.
Moving from insight to insecurity: We begin desiring to learn all we can about effective ministry. We ask questions. We connect with key leaders. We read all we can. We listen. We apply. But often as our effectiveness increases we get insecure. We are concerned that what we have gained may be lost. We get proprietary. We lose the edge for fear of falling off it.
Moving from Team to Me: It was John Maxwell I heard say, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” We tend to believe this; at least we want to believe it. This is one of those beliefs that doesn’t often find an expression in our behavior. We talk team, but act me. We try to build team, but tend to bask in me.
Moving from Kingdom to kingdom: Ministry can get competitive. We get about building our local ministry (kingdom) at the expense of what God may want to do more expansively (Kingdom). Existing churches easily get territorial when a new church arrives in their community. They see this as an affront on their kingdom, not an assault for the Kingdom. We are all for Kingdom ministry just as long as it does not emerge in our kingdom.
Moving from striving to arriving: Many leaders view life as an array of achievements, so we strive to accomplish. We complete our education. We complete our building. We plant our church. We disciple our leadership. We connect to our community. And once any of these, or others, are achieved we stop. We stop looking for what God has for us next. We stop adjusting what we do. We stop acting in faith. We arrive!
We must go beyond being content with movement and make sure the direction we are headed is correct. Where are you moving? What are you moving toward?