The Simple Answer

By way of explaining an illustration, the 3rd-grade Sunday school teacher asked the class,  “What is small and grey, has a long fluffy tail and gathers nuts?” Every student was self-consciously quiet.  Finally, she asked, “Billy, I know you know this answer.  What do you think?”  Billy responded quietly, “Well, it sure sounds like a squirrel… but, I’m going to say, ‘Jesus’!”  Billy wrongly assumed that the simple answer just couldn’t be the correct one.

We are often like “Billy.”  Especially in the most important issues, we struggle with the question before us, pursuing the complex solution and rejecting the simple.  It may be our self-sufficient pride or stubbornness that prompts us to resist the obvious.  Whatever the cause, it is often so difficult for us to believe:  The solutions to the most important questions are often the simple answers.

The most important question of all was asked of Paul and Silas, by the Philippian Jailer, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Their answer is startling in its simplicity.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”  (Acts 16:30-31)

We try to make it complex – or worse, confusing.  We want to add to the answer.  We want to invest more effort, work-harder, somehow prove that we deserve that for which we are asking.  Regarding the important issue of eternal salvation, people stumble over simply receiving a gift.

Or again, consider the question, “How can I be the kind of person I want to be?”  An important question that Jesus answered in this way, “he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)  It is simply a matter of surrender and dependence… and resting.  We insist on making it more complex.

In the church, or in business, we routinely reject the simple, in favor of the complex.  It may be that, a we’ve-never-done-it-that-way-before attitude gets in the way.  It may be that the stress of the problem we face is so great that the solution “just can’t be that simple!”  Whatever the root-cause, we miss the point.  We become overwhelmed… and stuck.  This is the value of gaining wisdom from multiple counselors. (Proverbs 15:22)  This is the role of the outside consultant or coach – to help us gain clarity – to point-out to us the simple solution.

Sometimes I read something by some authority or expert and you find myself thinking, “Well I knew that!”  Then, I think, “So, why didn’t I ACT on it?”  Why wasn’t I the one who wrote it, or taught it?  I had been so absorbed in considering the weight or complexity of the issue that I was missing the simple answer.  Someone had to tell me!

It is true that “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy.”  However, neither does “complex” lead to “more valuable,” or “more helpful,” or “more productive.”  Just because a solution is difficult to accomplish does not mean that it has to be unclear or difficult-to-understand.  Often, the solution that is clearly stated, in simple terms, will more likely be accomplished.

If the solution is not readily understood; or, if it is too complex to readily apply, the answer is probably not sufficiently clear and/or the question itself is not the one that needs to be asked.  Pray for clarity.  By faith, be satisfied to pursue the simple, and likely, the most obvious solution.

The solutions to the most important questions are often the simple answers.

~ 11.12.06
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“Settle-for” Mentality

It’s been said that no one changes until the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of changing.  Change is hard!  That is… intentional change is hard.  More specifically… intentional change for the better is hard.

One of the conclusions drawn from the Second Law of Thermodynamics is that “All natural systems degenerate when left to themselves.”  Therefore, change toward decay and disorder and chaos is natural, expected and, given time, inevitable.  It is change toward order and effectiveness and fruitfulness that is difficult… and often, uncomfortable.

However, without intentional change there will be no growth.  Without intentional change there will be no fruit.  Without intentional change there will be no evangelism… no developing disciples… no growing toward health and effectiveness… no glory to God.  Churches need the intentional, hard work of change.

As church leaders, do we face the need for change head on?  Or, do we back away or procrastinate and “settle for” the easy path… the comfortable result?  Either way, we influence the culture of the church we serve.

Do we settle for a…Culture of Complaint…Rather than Thanksgiving?      (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Do we settle for a… Culture of Control… Rather than Empowering Servanthood?      (Matthew 20:28 & 1 Peter 4:10)

Do we settle for a… Culture of Shame & Blame… Rather than Clarified Responsibility?      (Hebrews 13:7 & 17)

Do we settle for a… Culture of Activity… Rather than Effective Ministry?      (2 Timothy 3:5, Matthew 6:7)

Do you care enough to lead into necessary change?  Are you sufficiently compassionate toward those in the church… and those outside?  Will you do whatever it takes?

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When should we call on outside help?

Many churches and church leaders believe there is nothing that “Jesus and Me, together, can’t handle.”

Like all living organisms, churches have a normal life cycle.  They are conceived, birthed, develop, mature, sometimes reproduce, and then grow old and die.  The normal life cycle of a church is between 40 and 70 years.  However, unlike most living organisms, a church’s life cycle can be regenerated ~ started over.

As the involvement by people and energizing vision is replaced by complacency, organizational structure, and programs, a church gains momentum on the downward slope toward institutionalization and death.  This natural evolution is normal for each and every church.  Like disease in any living organism, if recognized early enough and addressed, the decline need not be fatal.

An assessment of health and effectiveness can identify the degree and the causes of decline in a church.  However, just as most of us put off a visit to the Doctor, most church leaders put off calling-in an outside consultant… until it is too late to turn things around.

Don’t wait too long!  Contact ThreeCords Consulting today for a free initial consultation about how we might be able to serve you and the church you serve.

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