Inefficient Jesus

Erik Cooper —  July 7, 2011 — 9 Comments

I remember reading Cheaper by the Dozen between study hall naps in the 7th grade (a story which resembles the 2003 Steve Martin movie in title only).

I loved that book.

The story of Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, time and motion efficiency experts by trade, parents to 12 children by some cruel act of chaos.

The dozen kids things was interesting for sure, but the thought that studying efficiency could become a paying career was almost too much for my emerging control-freak personality to process.

Efficiency is next to godliness. You know it’s true.

Except when it isn’t.

Last week I was hanging out with my friend Andy on the front porch of a local Panera Bread Co. I love spending time with Andy, and we try to meetup at least once every other week over lunch or a cup of coffee. He challenges me. He asks great questions. He makes me laugh. And on a good day, our connection brings each one of us just a little closer to God.

But internally I was wrestling.

Two hours. Away from my family. Away from my to-do list. Delaying dinner. For one guy to move a little closer to Jesus?

Incredibly inefficient.

Efficiency is in my blood. Do it smarter. Do it faster. Economies of scale. It’s always cheaper by the dozen.

But as a pastor, is it possible this impulse towards efficiency first may actually lead away from what I say I’m all about. If discipleship is only about transferring information, then let’s be efficient and just mass produce. But it’s not only about information.

It’s about Andy.

And me.

And some massive inefficiencies.

I’m all for corporate teaching. I believe in small groups. I absolutely love technology for the reach and influence it brings. But I believe the most effective means of long-term transformation may also be the most inefficient. Or is it?

“Again he asked, โ€œWhat shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.โ€Luke 18:20-21

Like yeast through dough? Maybe the Kingdom of God spreads most effectively when efficiency isn’t the driving factor. When we define the right goal, but also define the goal right. Maybe Jesus was a bit inefficient at times, too?

What do you think? Do we ever sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency?

9 responses to Inefficient Jesus

  1. Deborah Smallwood July 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Yes! I was just discussing this with my husband last night. I believe the most effective way to show people Jesus, is to SHOW people Jesus. That takes time, relationship….less efficiency…going against what society is driving us towards these days – bigger, better, faster. Our lives must be different and then mingle with others’ – more than just talking about it now and then.

  2. Can something be considered “efficient” if it doesn’t actually accomplish the task?

    I might argue that Jesus was in fact MORE efficient, because what He did(/does) actually accomplished a task, fulfilled promises, changed lives. Some approaches to discipleship may at first seem more “effective” than others, but if they aren’t really effecting lasting change, then it’s neither effective or efficient.

  3. Rachel Sayers July 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    YES! This brings me back to perspective and how being close to God means, in most situations, to be able to tap into and maintain His perspective in every situation. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. It’s really hard to have relationship with someone who is always ‘on the clock’. Somehow Jesus est. the kingdom without an iphone or the internet. I want to be able to focus on the people God has brought into my world….with all my heart, soul, mind and strenght.

  5. Karyn and I sincerely appreciate the time you took to spend with us one afternoon at a quaint Moroccan restaurant. Those intimate, private, timely, simple connections mean the world to so many people. We are no exception ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Direct disciple making is the most efficient way to expand God’s kingdom, and the ultimate mechanism to protect the integrity of the gospel and related doctrine. The simple reason is that the Way of Jesus is not about listening, it us about living. I can live life together with a dozen new disciples at a time, but not a hundred. Purple can worship and listen and learn about things in huge crowds, and that’s great. But Jesus didn’t commission 12,000 apostles at once, just about as many as you, can gather around a table. It was enough!

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