Over the course of these past weeks I have had several conversations where I bounced my frustration and/or confusion off of colleagues. Each time a helpful image rose up from that conversation. The first was the image of a crock pot. The second was the image of an aircraft carrier. Those images helped me to see that change - whether cooked food or turning several thousand tons of steel - takes a long time. I think I will reflect more on both of those images in some later posts.
Then today I was reading Brian McLaren's book, A New Kind of Christian, and he had this to say in the introduction:
When you're on a really long voyage, you have to get beyond asking, "Are we there yet?" and instead start asking, "Are we making progress?" ... The fact is, whatever a new kind of Christian will be, no one is one yet. At this point, we're more like caterpillars cocooning than butterflies in flight. But every transformation has to start somewhere. The sooner we start, the better. (xviii, emphasis mine)Needless to say, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that I have been asking the wrong question of my congregation. I have been making them answer, "Are we there yet?" when I should have been helping them answer, "Are we making progress?" I literally sat stunned for a few moments before reading on.
When I came to I realized that in order for me to maintain my sanity in leading this church revitalization effort, I need to start asking the right questions - questions that will help the church move the ball down the field, questions that will keep the congregation motivated when things move slowly, questions that will help us mark the progress we are making instead of wallowing in the fact that we aren't "there" yet.
Are we making progress?