I am reading "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and finding his words a challenge to my own attempts at thinking about the division in the church across racial lines a well as a our outcomes requirements on Christian ministries.
"God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first the accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.
. . . we think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from him the little things. If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where this is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness and small faith and difficulty; if on the contrary we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from our expected, then we hinder God form letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches that are there for us us in Jesus Christ.
This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. "pp. 28-29
This guy would not have made it in the church growth era! But what he says rings true to me about my own make-up (visionary) and oft found lack of contentment with the church.
It also bolsters, in a way, my feeling that perhaps in adopting market principles for evaluating ministry we can overstep or over-reach what God has for us.
There is a beauty in serving out of weakness-without-triumphalism that at the heart of the gospel.