I recently reread Seth Godin’s short book called “The Dip” http://www.amazon.com/The-Dip-Little-Teaches-Stick/dp/1591841666. This is a great book for people facing big decisions about business or ministry direction in the future. He basically describes three different situations that individuals and organizations find themselves in: a cul-de-sac, a cliff and a dip. In my next three posts I will look at each of these situations separately.
So, first let’s look at the cul-de-sac. This term is actually French for “bottom of the bag.” In common usage Merriam Webster defines it as “a street or passage closed at one end”. It’s like a dead end, but with a circle at the end. These became popular with the development of suburbs.
The picture Godin is portraying is of someone driving around that circle over and over, never making progress. For an individual, a church, or a business, it is not always easy to identify when you are in a cul-de-sac, because after all – there is movement. You appear to be making forward progress, even if that progress gets you nowhere. You can speed up, but you still end up in the same place.
Seth’s advice when you find yourself in this situation is to quit. Quit spending time and resources on something that is never going to get you where you want to go. His premise is that we don’t quit soon enough and often enough in life because we have always been told to do just the opposite. We are told to persevere, to keep pushing, and never give up. But, when you are going around in circles, this is bad advice! All of that energy can be used for actually getting somewhere.
Next time: The Cliff
Yesterday was the first cool day of September. Being a lover of summer, I’m not ready to see it go yet. But, seasons change. Each season has its good points and bad points. We experience other kinds of seasons in life. There are big seasonal changes such as family situations change, vocational changes and the aging process. But there are also smaller seasonal changes that I have learned to pay attention to.
In my line of work, there are very busy times and not so busy times. There are times when I am in front of groups of people so much that I get tired of hearing myself talk. And then there are will be several weeks where I am not in front of people.
What I have learned is to roll with the seasons. During the slower times – I slow down. I don’t try to force busyness on those periods of time. Instead, I catch up on reading, focus on those important-but-not-urgent tasks, and just let life happen. I came through one of those seasons last month. It was great. I knew it would be short lived, because with the coming of fall my calendar gets jammed up. I was able to “rest into” the busy season.
I also pulled back from a lot of social media stuff for a while and got outside – remember outside? So, I haven’t been blogging, and have posted only a few Twitter or Facebook posts. Hopefully, now I can return to the discipline of blogging (I never blog enough, I know), and engaging in other media more. But it sure has been nice!
If you live long enough, you will observe major shifts in the focus of churches in North America. (I can’t speak for other continents.) When I was younger and working in Baptist churches the focus was on evangelism. Our denomination had a goal of making sure everyone on the planet had a chance to hear the gospel. We counted success by the number of baptisms.
Now the focus has shifted to discipleship. It seems like everything I hear these days is about making better followers of Jesus. Success is counted in different ways (ie. how are people growing in their faith). To hear folks talk today, especially those in the missional movement, you’d think evangelism is a dirty word!
Of course these are artificial distinctions. When Jesus said “Go and make disciples”, this obviously involved evangelism and discipleship. They are two parts of the same process.
These days Baptists are fighting over the differences in reform and non-reform theology. Thirty years ago it was over Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal practices. It seems we have a difficult time stating what we believe and what we value without pitting our beliefs and practices against those of other Christians.
I keep coming back to that quote form Jesus “Wisdom is justified by all of her children” (Luke 7.35). To me, this means that wisdom is not found in separating me from you because we practice our faith differently. But rather, wisdom is displayed when we embrace the truths we share together and work towards the common goal.
Looking at it in another way, Paul said that “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers…” I think and act a lot more like an apostle than a pastor. (That’s why I do what I do for a living.) I’ve got friends who are wired to be prophets, others who are fantastic at sharing God’s story in an evangelistic way and still others who are great teachers. Paul’s point (if you read on in that passage) was that all of these people are important in building up the body of the church. If we only focus on our differences, all of the apostles would get together, all of the prophets, all of the evangelists, and etc. And the church would be totally dysfunctional.
So let’s work on getting rid of the “vs.” and replace it with an “and”.