I rode in the Batavia triathlon last month…sort of…unintentionally…for three miles. Unbeknownst to me, my 20-mile morning ride intersected with hundreds of triathletes! Cars were being waved through onto the same route as the riders. They shrugged. They smiled. They waved me onto the riding route, too. For those 3 miles I rode as fast or faster than I ever have…18…20…25 miles an hour…blending in with much of the pack! For a short time. Before I thankfully turned a different way to exit the triathlon route and cycle toward home…at a considerably slower pace.
Because, you see…I was a peddling pretender.
- No triathlete here
- No morning swim already under my belt.
- No run yet to be had
And certainly no months of serious training and the investment of preparation. Pretender! Just a cardio-inducing recreational rider.
I had serious surgery a few years ago. I wanted a serious surgeon. No pretender. I wanted someone who knew what he was doing, had success, would greet me again when he was done. “Didn’t want one who’d read a couple of books. Who could use its illustrations for incisions. Who’d workshoped in Hawaii.” I wanted an expert! A been there…done that…had success surgeon!
The cultural reset has left gifted, expert leaders and their churches ill prepared and tentative toward the world that has appeared…a world where not that long ago we would have sacrificed to send missionaries.
- Read a few books.
- Heard a talk or two.
- Probably no workshops in Hawaii
But, understandably and predictably, most get stuck trying to navigate the painful pit that all foreign missionaries endure when entering such missionary territories.
- Unlearning assumptions and ideas from the world they’ve known.
- Relearning new ways and new patterns and new practices for the world they now inhabit.
- Slowly gaining confidence…experiencing joy… that God is at work beyond the chasm.
Twice in the history of my own church body we’ve experienced the disorienting crisis of identity…”the world has changed”… only to emerge and find a missionary God powerfully and fruitfully ready to move among His people. God has seen fit to entrust today’s leaders with navigating the present crisis. The headwinds of post-Christendom plus the usual demands of congregational life are leaving lots of leaders feeling defeated and plotting when to exit the race.
…Feeling like missionary pretenders
The church today needs leaders with more than a couple of books and a talk or two fueling the leadership path if courageous directions of mission are to be pursued.
PLI Missional Leader Orlando, in particular, shepherds leaders across the painful pit to develop a new expertise and new confidence that multiplies leaders giving wider influence to the Gospel of Jesus to a missionary world. Raechel can help with clarity and questions.
The Father in heaven loves you! He sent His Son for you.
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken