“WOW! THERE MUST BE SOME REALLY GOOD STUFF HAPPENING HERE!”
That was the response of a couple of leaders attending the conference our congregation hosted some years ago. Several years earlier we had jumped to a multiple campus ministry and had now built the first phase of the new campus where the event was being hosted.
(The multiple campuses allowed us to maintain a deep investment in our urban neighborhood while reaching people who wouldn’t risk venturing across the river into such “unsafe” territory.) It was a great affirmation. “Really good stuff…” I was thankful… but…
There had been “some really good stuff” happening long before there was a new building visible above the ground.
Some of that “good stuff” had been happening for decades…before my time. It was like Gail and I gave permission for the “good stuff” to show itself. Most “really good stuff” and “overnight success” stories we see today have been 20 years in the making…with leaders doing the hard stuff… the beneath the surface stuff… the nobody seems to notice or care stuff.
Large numbers of leaders risk discouragement because there’s not a new building… not a bold initiative catching fire… no public acclaim and distant praise. And what’s worse, leaders risk failing to pursue the beneath the surface stuff… the nobody seems to notice or care stuff, such as:
- Living a life of integrity that others could follow.
- Reinvesting in marriage (if they’re married) when settling could suffice.
- Working hard. Excelling at strengths. Earning respect and trust.
Ten and 20 years from now there will be a brand new wave of “instant successes” of people and churches living out the Mission of God in vibrant communities with wide, wide influence. Here’s the secret that everyone forgets:
Most of those “great successes” of tomorrow have a leader or leader-couple today quietly, patiently, consistently doing the stuff that no one notices. They’re…
- Learning to be the presence of Jesus in pockets and places.
- Learning to share the proclamation of Jesus in words consistent with context.
- Learning to risk the uncertain and the untried for the sake of souls.
- Discipling a few by opening access to their lives and to the Word.
- Building leaders who will follow God like they’re following God.
- Creating communities where people of faith and no faith can casually serve and eat and do life and listen and tell. (See the triangle in this graphic:)
Many churches, and their leaders, are caught scrambling for the next really good thing that promises the quick results they want. You’ll find them ping-ponging back and forth from program with its promise to next program with its promise to next…
Every week in the PLI family I hear the stories. Large churches… any size churches… courageous urban churches… pioneering plants… leaders doing the important stuff… some with fruitful harvest and some with limited harvest right now.
So, a simple question: Have you surrendered doing the important stuff? Maybe thinking you will never see fruitful harvest on your watch?
A long time ago, Gail and I quietly promised each other and God that if He willed we’d stay at least a decade (we stayed much longer!) to do the important stuff (sometimes hard stuff) in that congregation long before there was any sign it was worth it and long before a shiny building and words of affirmation. We’re still making those kinds of promises today to each other and to God!
So, three quick points. Pick the one you most need to hear!
- Many of you show up every day doing the important stuff…the nobody seems to notice stuff, no matter plowing time or harvest time. Thank you!
- Some of you want to get strategic, get honed, get equipped to lead it all better. PLI wants to be your partner in a learning community. Raechel can help with questions and maybe with the costs.
- Certain of you can invest in the #2’s where cost is their question. Your one time or monthly gift opens the door for a leader today to equip them for tomorrow.