It’s hard to be patient when things look like they’re falling apart.
Which impatience is why congregations in decline start thrashing about, running away from anything new at the first sign of failure—and oftentimes before. That which is new appears threatening in virtue of nothing more menacing than its newness.
So, here’s what happens. A congregation sets out to do the difficult work of transformation—not just a cosmetic tweak here or there, but total tear-out-the-walls-and-change-the-footprint kind of reclamation project. At first, people are excited.
“We’ve been saying we needed to do this for a long time. It feels good to finally get started.”
Everyone’s been told that this is a long, arduous journey, and that they’d better gird up their loins.
“We know. The journey of a thousand miles … and all that stuff.”
But working without measurable results—which, in this case, usually means new young families, in which at least one spouse is a doctor or lawyer—taxes the patience. People have a difficult time laboring in the absence of, what appears to them, as tangible benefits.
The natives get restless.