I have been discussing some of the cultural challenges that deeply impact Christianity in the U.S. I pointed to the impact of the huge technological advances that have created Information Overload and the affluence that has provided Sensory Overload. As I have been doing the weekly articles I have also been working on a discussion summary of Zach Eswine’s book The Imperfect Pastor. His book speaks to our current culture and the way that pastors and Christian leaders have fallen prey to unrealistic expectations. We are expected to know-it-all, fix-it-all, be everywhere-for-all, and do-it-all-today.
As he describes his own pilgrimage as a pastor, he acknowledges that in the flesh we can easily become willing accomplices. Our need to be needed, pride, and insecurities are appeased when we conform to these cultural pressures. As he brings his reflections into focus in one of the final chapters, he suggests that we need to learn to make disciples and develop leaders at Game Speed. He wrote, “To practice at game speed is to run, catch, or kick the ball in practice at the same pace the game will require.” His basic point is that life transformation is not quick, so it can’t be done fast or in a hurry. It’s not that God can’t do it in an instant; it’s that He will only move as fast as we let Him.
Let me take his term game speed in a slightly different direction. For those of us who played little league sports, we know that one really good athlete can create a winning team. When we played in high school, we discovered that it took two or three really good athletes to win a state championship. If you played college ball you discovered that those two or three really good athletes needed to be surrounded by other good athletes. By the time someone makes it to the professional sports level, they discover that everyone on the field is a really, really good athlete. At each level, the athletic skills and therefore the speed of the game increases.
So what does doing ministry at game speed mean? Let me suggest the following:
What I hope you hear me saying is that game speed for disciple-making is slow and tedious. It calls for hard work and consistency. We have to be willing to do the right things year after year, knowing that disciple-making isn’t exciting or flashy, and it is actually very messy. The old sport’s cliché practice makes perfect is actually not true. You can practice doing something wrong and when push comes to shove you will generally do it wrong. The reality is that perfect practice makes perfect! In high school, I got tired of hearing my football coach say, “Run that play one more time.” We didn’t have a lot of plays, but the ones we ran were generally effective because we knew exactly what we were supposed to do.
The way to combat information and sensory overload is to get back to the basics: 1) Remember why we exist—live out the Great Commandments to love God and to love our neighbor as we are fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples among every language and cultural group in the world. 2) Rely on time-proven principles that support doing spiritual development at game speed
Yours in Christ,
Mark R. Elliott, AMS
Leave a Reply.
Retiring in April 2022, Mark R. Elliott served as a Director of Missions (Associational Mission Strategist) in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska for almost three decades. He is a strong advocate for obedience and Biblically based disciple making. As such, he knows that making healthy disciples requires Christian leaders to be constantly pursuing spiritual maturity—be lifelong learners. Because of the time constraints of ministry, most pastors focus their reading list on resources that assist them in teaching and preaching the Word of God. As such, books focusing on church health, leadership development, and church growth tend to find their way to the bottom of the stack. With that reality in mind, Mark has written discussion summaries on several books that have helped him to personally grow in Christ and that tend to find themselves on the bottom of most pastor’s stack. Many pastors have found them helpful as they are able to more quickly process great insights from other pastors and authors.
Looking for something?
© COPYRIGHT 2023. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.