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maps or a compass

I’ve just started reading The Passionate Church by Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad.  Kallestad is the pastor of Community Church of Joy, a 12,000+ church in Arizona.  I first heard of Kallestad by reading some of (and I feel the need to apologize ahead of time) Robert Schuller’s church growth stuff back in the early 1990’s.  His church was held up as a model for those looking for church growth methods and practices.

That’s why I found his author blurb on the dust cover to be interesting: “Walt is passionate about helping today’s churches transition from program-driven to relationship-drive mission-minded communities.”

This transformation began when Kallestad suffered a major heart attack in 2002 and had to have six-way bypass surgery.  During the ensuing sabbatical, he began to reexamine his church and the direction it was moving.  Here’s what he writes:

“After my heart attack and six-way bypass in January 2002, I began to consider who might be the successor to my ministry. It would have to be just the right person, someone capable of raising and managing a multi-million dollar budget as well as the staff and programs of a megachurch. It would need to be someone who could effectively reach the twenty and thirty-year olds I was struggling to reach.  I discussed this idea with other pastors across the country.  But it was in Washington D.C. that I felt the ground shaking all around me.  ‘Why would anyone want your church?’ a pastor there responded.  ‘Anyone who is serious about ministry today does not want to be stuck raising money for maintaining buildings and mortgages. They want to be on the cutting edge making a difference.’  As hard as it was to hear, I knew what he had just said was right.”

This lead him to this conclusion: “When the landscape changes, maps are useless, but the compass is still trustworthy.”

Our social, generational, technological landscape has changed — it’s not what it was twenty-five or fifty years ago.  The maps that we used to navigate those landscapes may not accurately reflect the land as it is now.  The challenge for pastors and other church leaders is to not become married to maps — but to cling to a compass.

The map we used to evangelize people twenty-five years ago may have worked well twenty-five years ago.  But it may describe a landscape that no longer exists.  Our compass is Jesus.  The same yesterday, today, and forever.

When new roads appear or old roads disappear, a compass ensures we’re headed in the right direction.  In fact, it may lead us where no roads currently exist!