Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Growing Pains 2: Surviving the Unexpected

Another factor that brings growing pains is dealing with the unexpected. New people and new ministries are exciting and worth the adjustments. However, unexpected breakdowns and accidents can elevate the stress level exponentially.

During a busy summer of mission teams and day camp, a water pipe came apart in the kitchen ceiling. The ceiling came apart, everyone was getting wet and there was momentary panic. I found the water cutoff (under a fire ant mound) and the panic subsided. This was an event that was unexpected and unbudgeted. The mission team repaired the pipe and the ceiling paying for all costs.

These things happen. That pipe would have come apart anyway. The timing, while seemingly unfortunate, turned out to be good. Otherwise the church would have struggled to find money to pay for the repairs.

An urban church leader must be unflappable and help others to cope when surprises strike. Planning ahead is always best but some things cannot be anticipated. Back up plans and hip pocket sermons are good to have around when a guest speaker fails to show up or a program runs embarrassingly short.

When heat broke down in the winter (in Chicago) we kept our coats on and worshipped anyway. When a dog came in the open church door during worship, I kept on preaching. (The dog left.) When my music leader quit a month before the launch of a new church start, we sang acapella until two church members learned to play the guitar.

When something breaks raise money to fix it. When a leader leaves, train new leaders. Always keep the mission in mind and your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). All seem lost in the aftermath of the Crucifixion but victory was 3 days away.

"As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." John 9:4

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