There are lots of things which stop us learning the lessons we really need to learn. We’re busy, rushing from one thing to the next. We’re afraid of what we might find – on a subconscious level I’m convinced this is why for many of us the prospect of slowing down and incorporating habits of sabbath into our weeks is so hard – but that’s a whole other post. We don’t like facing up to the pain of failures, mistakes, and sinful patterns that might be revealed.
But learning lessons is vital for all of us. If I am to grow in my walk with Christ, in my love for him and my following him day to day, if the world is to see more and more of him in my actions, reactions, loves and care. Then I need to stop and learn lessons . What is true of me is true of you too. And what is true of us as individuals is true of us as churches and wider afflictions and organisations as well. In the mists of the everyday and the ordinary busyness of life; family, work, ministry and so on and it can so easy to just soldier on doing what we’ve always done, or try to learn lessons on the go, like some kind of fast food pit stop that convinces us we’ve done something but really provides no long term nourishment. Instead we need to carve out time to learn lesson, we need to set aside time to reflect well and at length and ideally in discussion with others. Partly because if you’re anything like me unless you carve out significant time, you will just see the surface negatives and not the longer term positives.
I was reminded this week of some advice I gave someone starting out in ministry, it was simply to be patient. To learn patience, not to underestimate what can be done in the long term, not to sacrifice long term development and progress for short term change. But if we want to see that long term development we need to commit to learning lessons. But often we’re not sure where to start. Here are a few questions I’ve found helpful to ask under 4 headings.
Refocus: What is our mission? What are the principles we started out with? Do we still believe those are good, biblically founded, gospel shaped principles? In light of those core principles where does everything we do fit with them (it’s worth having a grid here to work through)?
Review: What fruit have we seen over the last 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years? How have people been shaped and changed? What has been significant in their shaping and fruitfulness? What is there to praise God for? What do we long to see changed so it is more fruitful and what does that fruit look like?
Reconstruct: In light of the above what is there that needs to change and what does that change look like? What needs to be dismantled and why? What needs to be reconstructed? And what would that reconstruction look like? What are we praying God would do through each of those things?
Re-envision: What are our dreams and hope for ministry in each area going forward? What are we praying for? Are those things big enough that we are reliant upon God or have we settled for management solutions? What does it look like to resource those dreams and hopes for ministry and what specific prayers will we pray to that end? How will we share this with others, the church members, and other shareholders, supporters and partners?