Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Attention Deficit Disorder is a most stifling dilemma among us these days. It is tough for some to stay with the program...whatever the program is due to short attention spans.

Randy Harris made an astute comment during his third class at Pepperdine. He referenced a section of a book by Shane Claiborne and John Perkins (Follow Me to Freedom) in which young Claiborne was discussing the need to get on with an urgent social project. Perkins, an aged Civil Rights leader, responded with the estimate it will first take ten years to engage such a pertinent move. Randy's point was we suffer from ADD to the extent we really struggle to give anything ten years.

I believe Perkins' ten years is the light side of the guestimate. It would seem twenty to thirty would be more in opinion, of course.

Back in my beginning days of preaching, the exhortation in school was to try to last two years; three would be better. If you can make it five, you may then want to move to your next congregation. In a local work it takes about ten years to pull the weeds and remove the stumps from the congregation. It takes an additional ten years (twenty in all) to do the same with the preacher. After twenty years, elders-preachers-members alike begin to catch on that except for the grace of God we are all toast.

The church suffers from it past practice of PIPO (Preacher In/Preacher Out) as well as MIMO (MembersIn/MembersOut) over brief periods of time. One of the reasons this has been nearly our destiny is because we have refused the Holy Spirit among us which bears the fruit of what? Love, joy, patience, etc; the very things needed to pull off decades of effective and opportunistic ministries.

Without Him we cannot bear such fruit on our own. Thus, we are instead compelled to rid ourselves of each other for the next impatient idea-mongers.

It takes ten years, young leader, to discover where both of your feet are. Settle down. Chill out. Open up. There is a great solution to the church growth question and you/we aren't it. He is. It took me about twenty years to run out of my great ideas. After that, so much wonder began to happen.

God really is amazing. What fascinates me is how willing He is to engage in His own work. We are far too pressed by our hurry-upness to pull off the kind of seed-sowing, kingdom-resulting work our communities truly need.

The work will get Jesus. It is our job to believe him....John 6:29. Learn to wait. It won't kill you; but it might kill off a bunch of your own nasty weeds.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

I truly thought this was going to be a post about how important grandparents are to the church (you know, "Pipo" and "Mimo" are like "Papa" and "Nana")!

Terry, this post was so encouraging, in light of where we are in our journey. Though Pat and I haven't commented before, please know that we soak up every bit of encouragement you offer to rookies.

Blessings, friend,
Deborah Bills