I just recently listened to retired General Stanley McChrystal who was giving a talk for the Ken Blanchard leadership group. He talked about his experiences as a paratrooper and how leaders build trust. He made a side point that I wanted to pursue with you.
He said that part of the leaders trust was in the many levels of preparation and training that plays out every conceivable scenario. When a paratrooper hits the ground, he is so ready because leaders behind him have thought out, planned and prepared for the different scenarios that he might encounter.
I am hearing a lot of sermons trying to get people to jump out of airplanes into the world to take on evange-lism and ministry to hurting and broken persons. I don’t, however see many actually doing it. The lesson from the General is this, most church members are doing what we have prepared and trained them to do. We have taught them well how to get into the plane and talk about jump-ing out. What we are not doing is training them. We are not holding “what if’s” and “if you encounter this then…”.
Specifically what I am suggesting is that we in church leadership must back away from the dust of the day and take a serious look at what we actually have avail-able for church members to utilize in training and readiness. Here is a good place to start: Church leaders need to revisit how well they know the world into which we want the people to jump. In many cases we are so isolated we don’t have a clue as to who is really out there and how we might love them. May I just pause here and ask you to take a deep breath and pray this prayer, ”Lord Jesus, help me see who is around me and know them well enough to love them.”
A second place to focus is to look at how many of our current church structures hinder readiness to jump. You know who has responsibility in your church to change the light bulbs, order literature, count the money, call the next meeting. But who is the person responsible for engaging and equipping for evangelism, who is the person responsible for implementing effective discipling practices? Who is the person who is out looking for cultural layers of people who are most vulnerable to the Gospel?
The General can give great lectures calling paratroopers to get ready to jump, but it only happens when he puts together a team that makes people ready to jump. You get the correlation here, as a preacher leader, you can spend all your time preparing a message that none can resist, and chances are you will have no more folks jumping out into the mission field than before. Or you can spend some time developing a strategy for readying the people and see them start. You don’t have to do it all overnight, but can we start someplace with some plan?