Visualize your life as a graph. If it’s been heading downhill for years, it might get into negative territory, until the combination of your finances, your marriage, your social, spiritual and emotional life combine to be a negative 10.
You give your life to Christ and, in that instant, your life turns around.
But your marriage is still a mess, your job still stinks and you’re still in bankruptcy.
Wait a minute. I thought turnarounds could happen in an instant. And what “instant” is a greater turnaround than salvation? So why am I still at a negative 10? What happened?
What happened was that your life turned around. You were heading down, now you’re heading up.
What didn’t happen is that your life didn’t jump from negative 10 to positive 10. You’re still at negative 10 – except spiritually and maybe, emotionally.
The good news is, now you’re facing a different direction. And the direction you’re facing is what matters most.
Now, apply that to your struggling church.
An attitude shift can happen in a relatively short period of time if people are open to it. (Sometimes “if” is the biggest word in the world. isn’t it?)
You’ll now be facing in the right direction, which means the energy that was wasted dragging the church down will now be invested building the church up.
But that takes time.
Turnarounds happen in a moment. Health takes time. Greatness takes a loooong time.
Greatness Takes a While
While writing my book and building this website I ran into a lot of people and websites making big promises. Online tutorials promised ”You can publish a book on kindle in 10 minutes!” and “You can set up a blog/website in 20 minutes or less!”
And they’re not lying. You can publish a book that fast, and you can set up a blog in almost no time flat.
But you can’t set up a good blog in 20 minutes. And if you want to publish a good book? That’ll take some serious time.
And if you want a great book or blog… I have no idea how long that will take, because I’m not even close to having done that – yet.
Greatness means effectiveness and impact. And those take time.
But I can tell you something about what it takes to have a great church.
In Church Life, One Year Is Just a Moment In Time
You can plant a church in a moment. Literally a moment. “Where two or three come together in my name” is all it takes. In his book, Organic Church, Neil Cole talks about churches that have been planted in a day. Legitimate churches.
You can turn a church around in a moment, too.
But if you want a good church – that’ll take longer. And a great church? A lot longer.
As an example, I’ve been in my current church for 20 years. It had been through tough times in the decade prior to my arrival. There had even been discussions about closing the church’s doors.
It took 5 years of all of us praying and working together to become a healthy church. It took 10 years to become a good church. And I haven’t even dared to refer to it as a great church until the last 3 or 4 years.
It took over 15 years to become a great church. And it takes an amazing amount of prayer, dedication and teamwork to keep it there.
Great Small Churches are possible.
Just don’t let anyone fool you into thinking they happen overnight.
Really? Another Marathon Metaphor?
Starting things is fun. Even when they’re hard. Newness is a natural stimulant that keeps you going.
Starting a church, starting a marriage and starting a business are all exciting. But once they’re started, the hard work of building health, strength and greatness sets in.
That’s why I always stress that building a great church of any size is a marathon, not a sprint.
It takes hard work, prayer, teamwork, assessment, trial-and-error, leadership, consistency, faith, trust-building, love and, above all, time. Lots of time.
There’s no shortcut to a great Small Church.
But a great Small Church is possible.
And, once you get there, it’s so worth it.
So what do you think? Are you willing to put in the time to build a great Small Church?
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