“Change sounds pretty but actually looks ugly, feels like hard labor, takes time, and pushes every limit we have.”
– Shaun King
These are excerpts from an article by Shaun King, who can best be described as a radical and transparent disciple of Jesus. You can read the entire article here: Shaun King: 3 Hard-Earned Lessons and Why I Resigned
1. Start a thing as close to the way you dream it being down the road as you can.
For 10 whole years before I started Courageous Church, I dreamed of it being one thing, started it as another, then spent the next 3 years trying to get it back to the church of my dreams. The vision of my heart was for a committed community of people that first and foremost served God in radical ways in inner city Atlanta and in broken places all around the world. Sunday morning would simply be the time when those people came together to celebrate and honor God and invite others into our Monday-Saturday adventure.
Instead, I started a super cool Sunday worship service centered church with 700 people and spent the next 3 years begging thousands of people to help me be the hands and feet of God by fighting child trafficking and caring for widows and orphans. I sold my soul for church attendance in our first week and could never quite get it back.
2. People L.O.V.E to hear about radical change. They just don’t love making it.
Political campaigns based on radical change win. Books written about radical change sell. Sermons on radical change boost Sunday morning attendance. The idea and thought of change is exciting to people, but mistaking that excitement for an actual willingness on behalf of those people to change now or later could be a miscalculation. I found out the hard way.
In March of this year (2011), for . . . 8 weeks, I preached the most radical, game-changing sermon series ever, entitled “Disciple.” Our average attendance was its highest ever. Our average offering was the highest ever. Excitement was its highest ever. Man, I was pumped!!
Then, almost literally the day we jumped into change, all types of stuff started falling apart. People left in droves. Scores of people started falling through on leadership commitments they made. Systems starting failing. Attendance was down. Offering was down. Excitement was down.
I had no idea that zero correlation exists between how much people love hearing about change and their actual willingness to make it. Here are some of the errors (I made):
- I seriously overestimated how excited (or even willing) people were to actually do the things I was talking about.
- When people left our church saying they did not support the changes, I did what I never do and helped talked them in to staying. These folk stayed but never earnestly fought for the vision because, as they already stated, they don’t believe in it.
- I had said that the changes I was suggesting could take 3 years to really nail down. Few people objected when I said that because we hadn’t actually changed yet. When I took a private poll just 3 months after we made changes, over 85% of people stated that they wanted to go back to the way things used to be.
3. Few disciples of Jesus Christ actually exist in the world.
I’m not even saying I am one and nobody else is. I have to fight the battle for my own discipleship daily. What I am saying is that church attendance, Sunday morning services, sermon-listening (or even sermon preaching), song-singing, hand-clapping, amen-saying, and all of the things that “Christ-ians” have lifted up so high look so little like Christ himself that I am utterly convinced that we are completely off base with what discipleship means.