Woody Hayes is credited with this description of Ohio State football. It really came from a sportwriter and was originally “Five yards and a cloud of dust”, then “Four Yards and a cloud of dust” and finally became famous as “Three yards and a cloud of dust.”
Regardless, the philosphy of attending to the basics of blocking, tackling and smashmouth football gave Woody Hayes and Ohio State one of the best all time records and propelled him into the Hall of Fame. Three yards is not nearly as fun as watching a 50 yard flea flicker or a triple reverse, but it is effective. The question is do you want applause or do you want to win.
Most of us are somewhat ADD. We bore easily with the basics and want to do the newest and latest fad. Church planting is all about the basics. After two years and a plateau, most of us start looking for something new rather than attending to the basics that we know work.
Dan Scates has written “Recalculating—8 Directional Changes New Churches Face”. Most new churches plateau in years 2 to 5. Dan calls us back to the basics of evangelism, discipling leaders, assimilating inquirers and 5 other basic building blocks for surviving the journey of church planting.
A colleague, John Wasem, planted a very successful church. John isn’t your conference orator or clever new “idea factory” . John is a faithful, competent leader who attended to the basics better than anyone I know and not only planted a succesful church that broke 1000, but also raised up leaders who succeeded him and took the church to continuing levels of growth. That’s reason to cheer in my book.
I will never be a Francis Chan or (fill in the blank with your favorite hero), but I can follow in the steps of John Wasem. I call it successful church planting for the rest of us.
If you are plateaued, I encourage you to get Recalculating and start implementing it. Better yet, find an accountability partner or a coach who will help you stay focused on the basics. You don’t have to be clever or incredibly talented to lead a successful church plant. You just need to be faithful and committed to the basics.
One last observation—Woody Hayes ended his stellar career getting fired for striking a player at the Cottonbowl game. An incredible career with an ignomious ending because of one slip. My church planting brethren, Guard your hearts. I want to hear God tell you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”