[“Church Without…” is a series of think-pieces designed to slowly deconstruct what we think is essential to having church and to call attention to the hidden barriers we’ve erected between ourselves and the Great Commission.]
What holds your church back?
Is it funding or finding help? Is it tradition or finding a vision?
Sometimes, I wonder if it’s because we want a roadblock. We want something to blame for our lack of progress. We’re like the Israelite army of 1 Samuel 17. We have a Goliath. He challenges us, mocks us, keeps us in our place, but he doesn’t attack, doesn’t charge. We’re safe where we are. We may not be moving, and when people ask why we aren’t moving, it’s no problem because we can point to our Goliath and suddenly our lack of movement is understood. We have the perfect excuse and the perfect level of expectations: zero.
But what if the problem wasn’t Goliath? What if the problem was a lack of problem-solving skills? We have the smooth stones. We have the sling. We just need someone to step up, call their shot, and fell this giant of a problem.
We need a problem-solving David.
I don’t know how true this apocryphal story is, but I recently heard about a team of graduate students who were assigned by their supervisor the task of decorating the Christmas tree in their building. This was a large tree, far taller than any of these grad students, and when they’re supervisor inspected the tree after they had finished, a major flaw was discovered in their work. You see, these graduate students had only decorated the tree as high as they could reach, leaving a festive “timberline” at the top.
Rather than think about the obstacle—Two weeks in a row we’ve talked about height. Is there a connection?—they decided that it wasn’t a problem worth solving, or maybe it wasn’t their problem to solve, or, worse, they failed to see it as a problem at all.
We, in the Church, have to see problems for what they are for we are the ones who know the truth about this world: created in perfection, it now exists in a fallen state.
We, in the Church, cannot allow an obstacle to remain in our path. We serve the Almighty God who has pledged to support us in our efforts to advance His kingdom.
So, what’s holding us back?
Is it that we don’t see the problems? Yes, that’s it sometimes. So open your eyes. Seek the opinions of others.
Could it also be that we don’t see an immediate solution and so we fear failure? Yes, that could also be the problem, but if that’s the case, then I think I’d rather be like David, convinced of victory and yet consoled with the knowledge that dying for the honor of God is better than living in fear of Goliath.