One of the tools we use and deeply respect at Pinnacle is the Natural Church Development (NCD) Survey. It’s a very helpful look at the health of a church through the eyes of eight key characteristics. We use it as a stand-alone tool, and part of the Retool Kit Pathway.
I share that because I just received an NCD newsletter this week, and it made me smile. If there is one consistent push back we get over Retool, it’s that it just takes too long. Admittedly, 18+ months is a long time by American standards; we live in a 24/7 world of instant connectivity, instant news, instant deliveries…you get the picture. What made me smile was the quote on the back of the newsletter. It read, “Is your church declining or growing? Did you know that 80% of all churches in American are plateaued or in decline? But 85% of NCD churches that have worked on their health for 31 months are growing!” First of all, I say, Praise God! I’m all for any process that helps the church succeed. But what caught my eye was the phrase…”31 months…” 31 months? That’s two and a half years! I think the practitioners of NCD have discovered the same thing we have. Real change takes time.
I have yet to find in the Bible a place where God is in a hurry. He took six days to create that which he could have created in a single instant. Moses “seasoned” forty years on the back side of the desert. Jesus developed his disciples over three years. After Paul’s conversion, he spent three years growing in his faith before going to Jerusalem. I find we’re often in more of a hurry than God is, and that’s generally not good. Quality change takes time to internalize.
When you think about Retool, remember that like NCD, The Pathway is a series of wins on the way to the big touchdown. It doesn’t take two years to see results; results happen from the start. I was privileged to lead a first retreat at a church earlier this year. It was a joy to see some of the lay leaders get excited about helping with the discipleship process. One of them said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a stable of trained leaders just waiting in the wings for new believers that we get to disciple?!” There was real excitement in that team to have a part in the ministry process – that’s progress!
So, maintain a sense of Biblical urgency, but don’t shortchange the process. It’s a pathway, not a program, and that’s by design. Because real change takes time.