“I’m just tired of hearing all these success stories. For once I just want to hear somebody get up and say it’s not working.” A pastor friend of mine said that to me when we were talking on the phone one day.
I believe we live in the greatest country in the world, but let’s admit it, Americans love success. Sometimes all the success stories cause us to not take action because we fear failure. We don’t want to admit things aren’t working well when it seems they are working for other people. I really believe that we learn more from our failures than our successes.
That’s true in my life, is it true in yours? I am a huge football fan, anyone that knows me knows this. An offense will never be dynamic if it never takes risks. So many of us like to throw short screen passes and play it safe because we fear failure. We are afraid of something not working.
In coaching some of our Missional Action Group leaders, and some of the churches that I work with, I sometimes feel like people spin their wheels and don’t have any new and fresh stories. Part of this is that fear of failure paralyzes us from taking any sort of action. If we are to learn, progress forward, and really make a difference, we need to take action and fail a bunch.
I can’t emphasize enough, if you come back and say, “we tried 10 different things to engage people that didn’t know Jesus and none of them worked,” I would be thrilled! You seriously tried 10 different things to engage people who don’t know Jesus? That’s amazing! What did you learn? What is God teaching you? What would you do differently next time?
Stepping out and attempting things even if they don’t work is part of how God grows us. We must create a culture of action, experimentation, and freedom to fail. As followers of Jesus, we are all about grace, right?
I think the bigger thing we should fear isn’t failure, it’s not attempting great things for the kingdom of God because we sat back with a list of, “what if’s.” Step out of the boat and look at Jesus…. You’ll sink and you’ll learn. There’s grace for that.
Jesus built his church on people that failed and learned. Let’s create cultures where that’s the norm. Experiment, Grow, engage the lost, be creative, and be OK with things not working the first 10 times. Let’s re-embrace adventure together!
At Narrow Road Church we regularly talk about what isn’t working, and on Sunday mornings have celebrated stories of failure because people took leaps of faith and risks for the kingdom. Do you highlight people who take risks even when they don’t work? Do people feel intimidated because they think they have to get it right all the time? How might God be calling you to create a culture of faith, risk, and adventure knowing that we have the safety net of God’s grace?
Mike Jarrell was a youth director in the Philadelphia area for a few years and loves teens. He left youth ministry convinced that the best way to impact teens is to reach families. Mike then became the senior lead pastor at Cornerstone Christian Church in Duncannon PA. After about 5 years at Cornerstone, Mike and his family followed God to start a missional church in Enola, PA. The Narrow Road Church has been around for 3 years. NRC is a movement of missional communities that follow Jesus on mission and grow in community.