Cooking with a Stove Not a Microwave
The adage “A watched pot never boils” pertains to a stove top cooking process, not a microwave timed cycle. I guess I am old school, or just old but I remember when we would bake bread at home. The process was to mix the flour and ingredients into a dough. The dough would have to rise, we did this by placing it on the wood stove. [We had two wood burning stoves for heat] Of course you must punch the risen dough to let it rise again, when the yeast had fully activated the dough would be placed in pans and prepared to go in the oven. After a time of cooking, the fresh bread would be done, and we indulged ourselves in this fresh bread. Of course, times have changed, but another old saying is “better than sliced bread” meaning that things were greatly improved.
I bring all this bread making dialogue to get to the point that some things just take time, and those short cuts while they may achieve the same results, are not necessarily the same quality or as lasting. When it comes to putting a revitalization process into action, short cuts do not help. It has been said that a revitalizer should expect to invest 3 years into a revitalization situation. In our technological world of instant results this is a troubling duration.
This is where the church and revitalizer must develop a patience discipline. God is not in a hurry, we are! The LORD took 6 days to create, after each day beginning with day 2, He took time to reflect on what He had accomplished and said – “It is good.”
When I was a child growing up, we had cartoon Saturday’s; two of my favorite cartoons were the Jetsons and the Flintstones. These two cartoons depict what I would describe as our dilemma when it comes to Church Revitalizations processes. On the one hand you have the Flintstones with their Neanderthal living conditions and on the other hand you have the Jetsons with their space age technology. We live in the 21st century and have developed into more of the Jetsons world. I can still see Jane putting some tablets into a bowl and punching some buttons and instant presto lunch was made!
I say all this to say, we must be careful to take our time in revitalization actions. We really do have people in our churches that are old enough to remember when they were growing up that a radio was the only source of entertainment. Now I must warn all that having patience does not mean slow, it means take our time and ensure that what we are doing is going to achieve the results that are needed.
I have been guilty of wanting to move faster than the situation warranted. When we move at our pace to get our results, we usually leave people behind and wind-up having to do “battle damage clean up.”
Revitalization is people and people are the church. I have shared with pastors that if they think they are moving to fast, they probably are, and if they think they are moving too slow, they probably are not gong as slow as they think.
Communication is key is revitalization work. Timing also is crucial. In scenarios such as mergers, replant and restarts the catalyst must make sure the church and people are following. This brings me to another aspect of taking our time, dating. I know you are saying WHAT? If we look at revitalization situations, they do take on a dating climate. How many of us have had long term dating when we were courting our spouse? I have known some who dated for years before they finally decided to marry. Revitalization is about relationships not about pushing a process through. The revitalizer must be a PEOPLE first and TASK second person. This is a difficult aspect of revitalization. I struggled with wanting to get to the results that sometimes I left the people behind or worse, neglected them totally to get to the goal I had conceived.
In dating again, it takes time to know the other person, such is the case with a revitalizer. Revitalizers will have a set to tools and skills to work through revitalization, but we cannot forget that we are dealing with people not inanimate objects. Revitalization is NOT about us, but about the people of God in a real situation that needs the MAN of GOD to lead them out of the wilderness.
Now having said all this about the revitalizer; the other side of the coin is the people involved in the work. The leader must clearly communicate the urgency of the work, yet not allow the church/people to wander around aimlessly. I have found that churches/people are all about talking about what needs to be done, but struggle with actually doing something.
While patience is a virtue that must be present, inaction cannot be tolerated. There comes a time where action must take place.
How does one develop patience? Slowly!
- Revitalizers must get before God, before he gets before people.
- Pray before acting and keep praying.
- Develop the Plan of God for HIS people.
- Instill the Will of God through scripture to the people.
- Communicate the PLAN over and over.
- Gather the people so you can lead them.
- Move towards the goal in unison.
- Take rest stops along the way.
- Trust God for results, not processes, or books.
I leave you with two other truths: James 1:12
Rome was not built overnight.
The turtle beat the hare in the race.
Dr. Jim Grant
Galveston Baptist Association