Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Long Term Focus

There are parts of life that are easier to assent to intellectually than they are to experience. Simple statements with a great deal of meaning behind them, like "early parenthood is hard" or "moving is usually stressful" are true by themselves, but fail to encapsulate the difficulty of the actual experience. The simple question "how?" unlocks so much of what is hidden behind one of these statement. For example, if you ask the question "How is early parenting hard?" one way you can simply answer that question is with one word: SLEEP.

The same has been true for us with church planting. We came to Austria with some very key values and things we didn't want to be. We value partnership and submission to national churches and leadership. We are not the solo rogues out on the end doing whatever we want to do. We are not the people that come in with money and say that it is "our way or the highway" just because we can fund our own work. We also value team and want to see a church planting effort here in Austria that is not just German and American missionaries running the show, but is truly a partnership, a cooperation between churches across borders and continents. Additionally, we know that we have to have a long-term focus in this culture. Austria is a history-focused culture (compared to American forward thinking - When's the next iPhone coming out?). So we know that we have to maintain a long-term focus.

It is this last statement, this "long-term focus", that we have started to realize is different to pay lip service to versus actually living it out. We have started to ask the question, "what does it mean to have a long-term focus?" or simply "how?". We are realizing it is easier to say it than it is to be in the middle of it. We are living this out and experiencing it in an existential way, which is far more complicated than simply saying that it is true. We know it objectively, but the subjective experience is different and difficult.

The short answer to the "how" question is: "slower". Slower than it would probably go in the States. Slower because relationships take time. This doesn't mean that things are on pause, but simply that we aren't starting tomorrow or the next day. We know that this process will take time and we accept that. We live in this tension of wanting things to move faster but knowing that there are no short cuts. We know that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing deliberately and in God's timing and not our own.

This leads the second answer which is, it may be slower, but it is also in God's timing. We have seen God on the move and we are continuing to pray that he will reveal himself and his timing. We know that our desire to "get things moving" can move us outside of God's timing. Our desire is not to run out ahead of God.

Ultimately, we continue to seek God and work towards the church planting project, but we recognize that it will happen in His timing and at His pace. It can be hard to wait, but we eagerly await God's work and are excited for how He will move in our community. The church here was founded as a prayer movement, and we want to see another generation of young people encounter God in prayer and in His word.