Right now I’m reading about American history. One of the books that I’m reading is American Creation by Joseph Ellis.
This morning I was rocked by this paragraph:
One of the beguilingly quaint customs of eighteenth-century warfare was the agreed upon understanding that armies do not fight in winter. If Howe [the British General opposing George Washington] had chosen to defy that custom in the winter of 1777-1778 (and the same argument would apply to the previous winter encampment at Morristown), he would almost surely have destroyed the Continental Army during its season of wholesale comings and goings, when it was most vulnerable.
But the idea of waging a decisive winter campaign, so obvious to us schooled in the relentless character of modern warfare, never even occurred to Howe, for the same reason that it never occurred to regular troops in either army to lie down in the prone position when the enemy prepared to fire a volley.
… there were unspoken and unbreakable rules of engagement that commanders of armies honored as gentlemen, and one of them was that warfare did not happen in winter.
America is a nation today because a British general was enslaved to a paradigm, a model/pattern of warfare that insisted “this is how we do things.”
The American forces were vulnerable, cold, starving, and significantly outnumbered. The British forces were in a perfect position to eliminate their enemy and crush the American Revolution. But because “warfare did not happen in winter” they missed their opportunity.
As I read that I started thinking about church (you can apply this principle to any relationship, organization, etc. you are a part of). What models/patterns (aka paradigms) are we blindly locked into that are keeping us from effectively expanding the influence of Jesus in our communities and beyond?
What are the thing that do not even occur to us that future generations will look back on and say, “How did they miss that?”
Mark Batterson often says, “There are ways of doing church that we haven’t thought of yet.” I think he’s right, so what are they?
I’ve traveled enough and visited enough churches to conclude that basically we’re all doing the same thing. Some are better than others and have more money to do it bigger than others, but essentially we all do the same thing. We’re all locked into a similar paradigm that is arguably not as effective as we might hope it to be.
Britain could have won the war (I’m grateful they didn’t) if they would have thought differently about warfare. It’s too late now.
It’s not too late for the church though. There is still time. Our Leader, Jesus, is alive and speaking to all who will listen! He has put blood on the ground for this cause! He is the source of “all wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) and is speaking still to those who are quiet enough to listen and courageous enough to act!
I leave you with this paradigm-busting verse from Psalms, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them” (Psalms 25:14 NIV).
Now go! Listen to God and then act courageously to break paradigms and claim new territory!