What Are You Aiming At?

“Knowing when to pull the trigger for Church Revitalization,” I am going to rely on my hunting experiences to address the topic.

First and foremost is the fact that “pulling the trigger” is the easiest act of hunting, and probably for Church Revitalization. Once the “trigger is pulled” the hard work begins. But long before the hunter/revitalizationist pulls the trigger there are major steps to be taken.

In the hunting scenario, you have to know what you are hunting. I won’t bore you with the statistics of how many cows and horses have been tagged as someone’s deer. The hunter has to know something about what he is hunting. He needs to know what are the living patterns and environmental conditions which the game animal lives. In other words what is the animals’ habitat? This is true for a church that is potentially going to be tried to be revitalized. What make the church tick? What are the demographics of the area, the animal and the church live in the area on purpose! The research for the hunter will increase his ability to “bag” the game he is hunting. Likewise it can be said for the revitalization attempt. The more you know about the “creature” the better your chances. Too often in hunting as in revitalization, those attempting the task haven’t thoroughly investigated the situation or “hunting grounds.” It would make sense that if you are going to hunt deer, that the location you’re hunting actually has deer. What I mean by this is that not all locations are suitable for revitalization/renewal. Sometimes the ground is vacant of a church/spirit and the church must be allowed to die. A hunter cannot “shoot at anything that moves” nor can a revitalizationist just start the process.

I liked hunting in Texas, they have plenty of game to hunt, and I was usually very successful. But before we donned our hunting gear for the hunt, we had months of preparation to do. We set up cameras in the field to get a good view of what was in the area. We tilled up the ground for a food plot, and of course we made sure the deer stand was in good condition. Likewise with a revitalization situation, much leg word has to be done. The congregation needs to be studied and viewed. If you don’t know their patterns of living, you can easily mistake what needs to be done. Observation is key; “pulling the Trigger prematurely is what we call “Buck Fever.” Identification again of the game is essential. The Fish and Game warden doesn’t care whether you made a mistake, if you shoot the wrong animal you lose!

Once the decision on what Game to hunt; the next decision of importance is “what am I going to use to hunt with?” This could range from black powder, rifle, crossbow, shotgun or pistol. Varying regulations and limits apply for each. Additionally, the hunter must determine what caliber of rifle is going to be used. This isn’t as easy as one would think. If you use too big a caliber, you not only kill the game, but destroy the meat – for example you don’t hunt rabbits with a 30.06! But the opposite is also true; you don’t hunt bear with a 22 rifle! I would equate the Weapon of choice for hunting to the process to be implemented in the church for revitalization. There are many tactics to hunting and also with church revitalization. Applying the wrong process to a situation could just “wound” the church or worse yet destroy it. This is where some more preparation comes in – I have to check my sights and accuracy before I go on the hunt. I must be familiar enough with the rifle so I can know what it can do, but also my limitations with it. The Church Revitalization process must be known and capably implemented. If there is unfamiliarity with the rifle/process, the hunter could be the one who is shot!

So the game has been investigated sufficiently, the location has been scoped out, the preparation of the field; deer blind and such has been checked and re-checked. It’s time to get up early in the morning for that first day of hunting. There is excitement in the air, we just know that we are going to be successful our first day out! A word of caution here; one of the greatest benefits of hunting is the hunt. What I mean is the joy of being out in nature, watching it all come alive. I have learned that there is more to hunting then bagging my buck the first day. I have on too many occasions shot my limit of one buck an hour after hunting season began. I was done, even though there was more hunting time, I was done. When we think of church revitalization, we can’t always have in the forefront – “fix the church.” The journey of revitalization has greater rewards besides that if we will be patient.

Church revitalization is for a “season” not a day. This brings me to my next point. Too many hunters shoot the first thing that walks into their sights, pull the trigger and they’re done. It doesn’t matter what size or quality of the animal at that point – the animal is down and the limit is filled. A smarter hunter/revitalizer will patiently watch and see what is in the area. Remember the church and game live there on purpose. Sometimes my greatest pleasure us watching a group of deer frolic in the autumn breeze without thinking about “pulling the Trigger!” Sometimes we can be in such a hurry we miss the joy of the process. But let’s say that you have watched a certain buck coming in and out of the hunting area, you have all you preparations completed, even having some “scent” out so they won’t recognize your odor. [Word to the wise here, not matter what you do, you’re not a deer!] You make the decision to “pull the trigger.” But pulling the trigger takes practice. I have missed my target too many times because I “jerked the trigger, rather than pulled it. In hunting and revitalization, how the trigger is pulled many times determines how the shot was effective. We can do all things right, but if we “blow the shot” we may never have another opportunity. When taking a shot, the field of view has to be clear, if there are things blocking a “good kill shot” or “launch,” take care of them, or pass up the shot.

SO now you are leaned over your rifle scope, ready to pull the trigger, breathing must be right, a rhythm must be reached. Revitalizer – Breathe, accuracy depends on it. Once all is in harmony, squeeze the trigger on purpose, with expectation of hitting the target.  But learn this great lesson – know when to pass up the shot! If there is something that prevents a clear unhindered shot – don’t shoot. Wait for a better day.

Revitalization is hard enough with all things “appear” to be right. Hunting is the same way; sometimes the animal gets away; so it is with churches. One thing about it, there is always more deer and more churches to pursue. Happy Hunting!

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