"A river is easier to channel than to stop."― Brandon Sanderson
"One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals"
― Michael Korda
The world has a lot to say about momentum, these being just a small handful of the results that come up when you search this word on Google. I've been thinking about this word a little as I've thought about what to write on this week, the days getting away from me so that it is already approaching Friday evening before I've got around to writing down my thoughts.
I'm not always a good front seat passenger in a car, which my wife would probably agree with. Put me in the back seat and I'll happily sleep, but in the front I can't help but notice things, spot when the gear is too low, the engine working harder than it need do.
Driving in a low gear, whether as a passenger or the driver, is never that much fun. Heavy traffic (which, really, we don't have a lot of in Tallinn, though its all relative ― here a traffic jam is five cars waiting at a junction!) means you rarely get out of third gear. Our car has six gears, and its only once we clear the city (which doesn't take long to do in beautiful Tallinn) that we get to move through the gears, and pick up some speed.
As leaders, we have gears. Actually, whatever walk of life you are in there is an element of different times calling for different gears. My writing life, at the moment, is seeing me move up through the gears ― its been an exciting year so far because of that.
We've now been four years in Tallinn, as I wrote about last week. And if I use the picture of a six speed gearbox, (not counting reverse, because let's face it, who wants to go backwards!), I'm not sure, as a church plant leader, I've ever really gotten out of about third gear. We've had a few false starts ― people moving away suddenly, or deciding church planting wasn't for them after all. We've had seasons of growing numbers ― first gear, into second then third...before the crunch of tires, momentum halted and we are back to (seemingly) a snails pace. Of course, picturing the car (as my image says above) whether its first gear or sixth, you are still moving forward. Progress is progress ― albeit slow.
It's hard to think that as a church plant leader, I've not been able to move through the gears as maybe was the case in St Petersburg. There, with a great team around us, we could all operate where our gifting felt most natural, flowing into fourth, fifth and then sixth gears as space allowed. There were great 'times' of being a leader back then, blessing people, prophesying, growing together as a group. It caused others to move through the gears too (which is what real leadership is all about, seeing others growing in who they are, released to be all they can be). We had genuine, spirit filled, forward momentum.
In contrast, I've not been able to see that happen (yet) in Tallinn ― a result being, those that have been with us (sometimes very briefly) haven't caught the very thing we want them to see. Momentum then grinds to a halt.
Maybe that's the thing. In a land such as Tallinn, where the ground is so untouched, the seeds of the Kingdom yet to be planted, we've had to swap the car for a plough, doing away with gears altogether. With a plough, there is no gearbox, no moving from fourth to fifth, just simply forward movement. Forward progress, one row at a time. Progress.
And that's an interesting thought.
Do you know someone who can push a plough with us? We'd love to have you come visit and see this amazing city, this interesting people, yourself. It doesn't matter whether progress is fast or slow, we aren't going to quit ― because, as the saying goes, progress is progress.
Tallinn needs a whole bunch of spirit filled, fun loving, people seeking, God worshipping people, and so do we. Mission is fun and best done in team. And best of all, with the image of a plough instead of a car, there is no chance of back seat driving!