The reality is that replanting is much more like a running a marathon, rather than a 100-yard dash
One of the books that I recently started reading with my children is Aesop’s Fables. For those who may be unfamiliar with this book it is a compilation of short stories and each one illustrates a timeless truth. Even if you’ve never heard of these, you’re probably familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare. In this particular story, the hare boasts of his speed and challenges the animal kingdom to a footrace. The tortoise, although exceptionally slow, accepts his challenge. After the race begins the rabbit quickly dashes toward the finish line, but before reaching the end takes a nap to demonstrate his speed. Meanwhile, the tortoise slowly, but steadily plods along the trail. Finally, the rabbit awakes, but it is too late. The tortoise had already crossed the finish line and wins the race. During his victory speech the tortoise discloses the timeless truth: “Slow and steady wins the race”.
One of the common pitfalls I see in guys who are replanting or revitalizing churches is they view themselves much like the hare and not enough like the tortoise. Their motives and intentions are good, but their approach and strategy is wrong. The reality is that replanting is much more like a running a marathon, rather than a 100-yard dash.
Over the next few posts, I want to introduce to you a vital characteristic common among successful church replanters that will hopefully correct this faulty approach. This characteristic is called “tactical patience”. Simply put, tactical patience is the ability to skillfully implement change at a pace that is appropriate to a specific congregation’s health and needs. It is about having the discernment of knowing when something must be changed and how it should be changed.
Before moving on, I want to make an important qualification because I don’t want the reader to overreact, allowing the pendulum to swing to the other end. I do not want to suggest that moving slowly means not moving at all. In fact, I would argue that if you have don’t have the desire, burden or the guts to make difficult decisions that will significantly change a congregation in order to lead it towards vitality then you are not called to replant. But most replanters don’t have this problem. Instead, in their zeal to see their church healthy again they move too quickly and operate with little tact, which in the end will kill their pastoral tenure and their church.
Published January 26, 2016