Are you familiar with the cruise ship analogy? You know the one, a course correction for a cruise ship has to happen slowly, they can't turn on a dime. A slight change in the rudder (assuming a cruise ship works like a regular boat), a blast from the side propulsion jets or whatever they're called, allows the ship to slowly start changing course and over time the ship gets into the correct position to head in its new direction.
I've heard this analogy related to large organziations, buisnesses, one's personal life and various other scenarios. While I'm not a sailor by trade and really don't even like the water, I dig this analogy. I dig it because I enjoy movement, even small incremental movement. The thought of a massive organization beginning to see a shift in priorities, values and behavior is inspiring.
I was facilitating a Bible study on the topic of, "The Church" with a small group of young adults in which there was much discussion on the state of the church, the concerns over the current church, the future of the church, etc. What I noticed was that we were repeatedly using phrases like...
All of our talk was centered around some amorphous, unnamed thing that was responsible for the current state of things. In the midst of the conversation someone even brought up the cruise ship analogy. We all agreed that change within the church would take time and couldn't be accomplished overnight. In that moment I was struck by a truth that is often overlooked when people discuss needed change in the church.
We tend to downplay our involvement and responsibility for that change. No one is ever interested in discussing what's really needed to see this incemental shift begin, especially if it involves us doing something different than what we're comfortable with.
In the context of our discussion on the church, this truth is even more relevant considering that the church isn't the church without the people. The people are the church. I imagined in my minds eye, and attempted to illustrate on my white board, a singular road that comes to a fork with paths headed in different directions. What's required for a large organization (the church or otherwise) to begin to see a shift in priorities, values and behavior has everything to do with the individuals in that church beginning to choose the same direction at the fork in the road.
If every other person chooses a different direction at the fork in the road no progress will be made. The organization will flounder in busyness and activity while never progressing towards a common goal. It's only when every person begins to consistently choose the same direction at the fork in the road that a noticeable shift will be observed at the larger level.
We give only lip service to our desire to see our churches become more effective in sharing the Gospel, more helpful to the hurting world around us and more empowering to those who darken our doorways when we fail to own our part of the change.
Things can change but that starts with you. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.