J.D. Payne on Taking the Shortcut

Pastor, professor, and author J.D. Payne gives us a good reminder in terms of our philosophy of making disciples. Efficiency is not our goal:

Every morning I take my children to school.  And every morning we enter into the crazy car pool drop-off line.  Crazy? Yes! Efficient? Well, that depends on whether or not you are in a hurry.

All the parents enter campus and snake their way around the school’s property, until they reach the designated drop-off point.  This traffic pattern requires that one drive across eleven speed bumps, while moving very slowly.  Now, while this trip circumscribes most of the school’s property, the cars continue to move.  There is very little stop-and-go traffic.

A slow process? Yes. But, efficient and effective for moving hundreds of cars in a short period of time. . . while not running over the kids.

But could this process be faster–maybe allowing me to save some time and have that time to grab an espresso or latte? Absolutely!  But what would it cost?

Any recalcitrant parent needing their Starbucks could easily take the short-cut, cutting their lengthy cruise across campus down to a matter of seconds.  They could easily miss most of the speed bumps–hitting only two.  They could be on and off the school’s property in a very, very short period of time.


Their disruption of the normative flow of traffic would cause a great delay that would ripple throughout the hundreds of cars already in the car pool line.  Their interference would cause a breakdown in the entire system–hijacking the effectiveness (and efficiency) for everyone.

As I dropped off my kids this morning, I could not help but think about the great temptations that exist to short-cut the Church’s call to make disciples of all nations.  Sometimes the shortest and seemingly most efficient route to accomplish the goal is not the most healthy way.

Sure, it will win the sprint for us.   But after the sprint is over, we may be very surprised to realize that the race is actually a marathon.  And we just ran out of energy!

What about you? Are there missiologies, ecclesiologies, philosophies, strategies, and methods presently being applied in your country that appear to be efficient but not effective for the task to which the Church is called? Are there any shortcuts being taken–and looking very efficient and successful–but are likely to result in poor health and chaos later?

Sometimes the drive around the building is the best way to go.  Sometimes it is right and good to miss the opportunity to get a cup of coffee.


Be sure and check out J.D.’s latest book, Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration, and Mission, which was written to “raise awareness of what is happening in the West when it comes to the migration of the world’s unreached people groups, and to offer a biblical response.”

J. D. Payne serves as the pastor for church multiplication with The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.  Before moving to Birmingham, he served for ten years with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and as an Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism in the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he directed the Center for North American Missions and Church Planting.

Check out J.D.’s blog, Missiologically Thinking


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