Monday, October 27, 2008


I was just reading from a book written in 1877. I know, but I do that kind of thing. The quote was from a man named Phillips Brooks--he was the kind of guy who was introduced by people like Billy Sunday. Anyway, here's what he said:
...and the only sure and lasting way to make men believe in one's devotion and purity is to be what one wishes to be believed to be.
Two weeks ago, I heard Andy Stanley say the same thing in reference to moral authority, and the necessity of our deed and creed aligning.

So, today I've been thinking a lot about where we're headed in ministry. For the past year, I've been helping to lead an effort by our church to reach young adults. It started out okay, but we've veered from our task. We replaced the slow growth of a solid leadership team with a weekly event, and now the event is hollow.

Somewhere along the way toward credibility, we took a short-cut to build something. But we've caught ourselves. For the next two months, we're circling the wagons and dropping the event. The leaders are re-grouping, and we're being joined by a new handful of young people who are determined to carve time and opportunity to serve our lost friends and the world we live in. It's the right decision--we need time to pray and dream again. And we need to move forward in ways that address those dreams--in ways that truly serve our disconnected friends.

In the midst of this renewal and refocusing, I find myself uneasy. In the words of a friend, "It's difficult to pause in a culture that values measurement." Somewhere along the way, I've become a performer. Slowing down is hard to do, but here we are. I'm haunted sometimes by the ministry of Jonathan Edwards (I know, more old stuff). At one point in his ministry, he paused and looked around. Then he began to visit the home of each person in his church, one by one. He both encouraged and challenged them--in their own homes. That church became the seed of the Great Awakening.

It's worth it to take time to pause, to sharpen the axe, to get your bearings. I think that's why we started The Clearing in the first place, right?

You can read the whole book by Phillips Brooks here and now.