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Building Strength for Long-Term Movement

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It is often said that church planting is a marathon, not a sprint. Of course, any good church planter knows it’s both. There are moments you have to run and moments you have to pace. Sprint too hard for too long and you will burnout. Lose your sense of urgency and you will lose momentum. The challenge is that most of us know how to sprint. When you tell a kid to run, they sprint without thinking. But as any good runner will tell you, pacing takes practice. I still remember running my first 5K. I planned to pace myself, but as soon as I saw people in front of me, my competitive side kicked in. Pretty soon I was moving at a good clip, passing people left and right. I’m not gonna lie. It felt great for two miles. Then my body started to slow down as that fast pace caught up to me. You can predict what happened. All those people I had passed earlier who were pacing themselves the right way gradually ran by me. 

Unfortunately, in the ministry world we are notorious for teaching people how to sprint, but not how to pace. Ministry is a series of races. You set a goal. You sprint towards that goal. You celebrate when you win. And you move on to the next race.

But what if that constant sprint not only makes us unhealthy; what if we lose something by running that pace? We know it takes different kinds of muscles to run different distances. What if the kind of strength that enables us to run fast potentially keeps us from running long?

This resource is a collection of talks from our 2019 Summit Collaborative Retreat about what it looks like for us to run with pace, to build strength for long-term movement. The first, by Ryan Brooks, paints the all-too-common picture in ministry of how we can put ourselves in a position of exhaustion that creates the conditions for compromise. The second, by Trevor Atwood, is a deep dive on the cultural underpinnings that drive us and our people to try and live without limitations. J.D. Greear’s session on first vs. second generation faith exposes the opposite tension which creeps into established churches, the tendency to get comfortable and lose our sense of sacrifice and urgency. And the last article, by Ray Orlund, reminds us that the solution to all of these problems is ultimately a realignment of not just our doctrine but our culture and spirituality to the gospel.

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