WARNING: The following blog post could lead to disturbing mental images involving peril to barnyard fowl
My 7-year-old son recently began occasionally playing Minecraft, and as any boy of that age with an engineering mind might tend to do, he’s begun to wonder about the problem-solving capacity of a good ol’ brick of TNT.
Earlier this week, as we were getting ready for dinner, he was inspecting the roasted chicken sitting on a plate. He was asking questions about where the head used to be and then asked a question out of genuine curiosity, “What if they put a bomb inside a chicken so that they could kill it really quickly?”
We then had a discussion about what happens to things when they blow up, and I pointed out that if they did that, there would be no more chicken to eat. The bottom line is that sometimes the fastest way to do something isn’t always the best.
There are three vital components of movement-building that are easy to leave behind because they seem like they will slow us down. Let’s take a look at each one:
There is no doubt that you can usually start something faster by yourself than you can with others. Collaboration REALLY slows down the process. You have to wait for others before key decisions can be made. You have to risk logjams when different opinions about how to do things emerge. As you begin to talk with government agencies, churches and other organizations it can quickly become overwhelming to think about how to coordinate all the moving parts.
However, the truth is that while starting something with others is hard, sustaining something alone is nearly impossible. Yes, your church can dive in by itself and make something happen. Yes, your organization can roll out a brand new program in a matter of months. However, if you want staying power, you’re going to need to find some friends. All of us are better than one of us. Not faster . . . but better.
You might be thinking we just covered this one under “collaboration”. There is certainly a relationship between the two but they are different. Collaboration is working together with other people – followers of Christ or not — who may not agree on a lot of things but have a common passion for solving a problem. Unity is the oneness you have with others within the Body of Christ.
Unity comes into play when you are working with your own church as well as other churches. There are doctrinal and philosophical differences and unity does not mean total agreement. It does mean that despite these differences we will choose to be one. When conflict arises, we will handle it biblically. Unity can be harder than collaboration. Sometimes, the thought of having to slow do down enough to maintain unity and address conflict just doesn’t seem worth it. However, the night before Jesus died (see John 17), the primary thing he prayed for us is that we would be one. So, while unity sometimes seems to slow us down, it’s really important to God.
We all acknowledge that we should not proceed in this work without prayer. And while we speak of the importance of prayer, and we pray to open and close meetings, an outsider objectively observing our conviction about prayer (mine included) might very well come to this conclusion: “You believe prayer is important but you often live as if it probably won’t make as much of a difference in the world as the meeting you are about to have, the phone call you are about to take, or the blog post you are about to write.”
If we truly believed that God would hear our prayers and change things, how much more of our time would we give to it? As concentration camp survivor, Corrie Ten Boom asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
If you want to build advocacy and recruitment programs fast, you can certainly go it alone and fill your time with the strategic activities that will get it done. But let’s not forget what’s left for dinner after the chicken blows up.