I am a firm believer in learning by immersion (with the exception of swimming – I’m simply granite-like). Endure a high level of discomfort in a short amount of time and you will learn very quickly to find a way to exist. Actually, I believe this mostly for other people. I thought that I did for myself. But, as we are living this out, it isn’t always clear if the existing part will actually come to fruition. It gives me the sensation that I’m not quite stable. I guess if you were to ask somebody who is in the middle of surviving crisis if they were feeling 100% stable, they would probably say something sarcastic like, “does it look like I’m feeling stable? This is insane.” But, they would press on and come out a bit stronger and regain sanity at some point later.
All this is to say, while I’m not feeling quite stable – that is comfortable, satiated and relaxed, all of the time, I’m not about to let go and give in. I realize that there are many external elements that we are dealing with on top of our own internal situations. Simply dealing with the cultural adaptation requires time. I am coming to the conclusion that one year isn’t enough time to have worked through everything to the point of regaining the sensation of being home. The sink or swim method is still in effect.
Getting back to evaluating effective ministry, it’s a tough thing. You can’t simply look at numbers or facts. “if you do these things, but lack love, then you are a clanging . . .” At the same time, if you never evaluate the facts and figures, then perhaps your methods aren’t effective. For example, the Holy Spirit could lead you to want to reach those who are hungry in your city. If you were to head the call, but only provided caviar to those who were starving, my guess is that you would fail. No one would be fed the nourishment they need. Method matters. So, our job is to do things that matter, that help and are effective but to do so only in the context of love.
Still more to come . . .