Monday, October 31, 2005

Dig a well

I love this modern parable about well diggers and fence builders. It harkens me back to my days in the South Dakota Department of Agriculture when we were helping protect rangeland by promoting cross fencing and water system improvements. It rapidly became evident that 1) Cows aren't stupid; and 2) if you want the cows to move away from the streambanks, you have to provide alternative water sources.

The cows, in pure self-preservation instinct, stay close to the water supply that they know. They will destroy all of the grass around that area if water in another location is not provided. And even after the water is available, the cattle have to be led to it. And putting up cross-fences with gates is a good way of getting them to go to the new pastures.

There is a ministry lesson there. First, we need lots of water sources to steer people toward. And not all of them have to be inside the church walls. Second, we have to lead and prod when necessary. Cows get comfortable with the known, and tend to stick with what they know works. Churches are like that too. Sometimes it takes a leader to move them to new pastures and new sources of sustenance. The trick is finding a leader willing to lead and matching him/her with a congregation willing to move.

The churches who don't move end up with weeds along the banks and little good food and muddy water. And they wonder why they don't thrive.



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