Friday, May 6, 2011

Getting Out of a Missional "slump"

Have you ever heard about baseball hitters "being in a slump." It refers to an extended time when a player is not hitting the ball well. Unlike basketball or football where the way to break out of a period of below average performance is to either get more aggressive or to rest your body so that you can return with more vigor and effort, the approach in baseball is slightly different. Aggression actually works against you in baseball. Hitting a ball consistently is about allowing your mind and body to relax so that you can swing in a fluid motion that naturally connects with a ball in an unforced manner. The times when I have hit the ball the hardest were the times when I was not trying to swing the hardest. Every time a hitter tries to over-swing he misses the chance to actually apply the restful force that results in a hard hit ball.

So to break out of a slump, one has to train the mind and body to exert effort in a restful manner. It sounds counter-intuitive, but that is the way it works.

I think the same is true about being on mission. All of the talk about being "radical", "lighting a flame for mission", "passionate discipleship", "exponential movements" etc. sounds great in sermons and at conferences. It stirs us us to do something, to make an impact, to change the world, but the reality is that such talk creates the expectation that God's mission is advanced through aggression. (Sadly, I think that our need to market books and conferences is generating the wrong idea of what actually can change the world.) So we apply effort. We do something radical. We try to initiate something that would require great faith. And there are usually enough success stories that are based on this aggressive language to justify promoting them as true.

Time will reveal if these approaches are only based on strategies of forcing mission or if they are developing a counter-intuitive way of training for missional that exerts effort in a restful, Spirit-led manner. Strategies, fads, and trends come and go, but the mission of God moving like a mighty river, without hype, without promotion continues to flow. In what will we invest our energy?

1 comment:

charlieschurchofchrist said...

seriously Scott this week you've become one of my anticipated blogs to read. I'm not sucking up - this is genuinely good stuff. I have been critiquing our emphasis on books and conferences for awhile but I haven't considered this aspect. To add to your idea about a slump I love to surf and I've found over and over again that if I get agitated at my inability to catch a wave in that session - that agitation only further ensures I will not catch any more waves. The frustration will cause me to make even more errors. So I need to clear my mind, take a deep breath, disconnect from that frustration and try again.