Sunday, October 28, 2007

Discipleship and African Elephants

(7th post on Discipleship and Zoo thread)

Some weeks ago I wrote about Discipleship and Indian Elephants. I am writing yet another post on elephants – this time from Africa.

The German theologian, church planting/growth researcher and conference speaker Christian Schwarz wrote in his book Natural Church Development a true story about African elephants.

He wrote about a time when a breed of elephants in Africa were threatened with extinction. They were either being hunted down or their grazing grounds were being over logged they had no food to eat.

To solve the problem zoological technocrats conceived of a plan to save them. They gathered the remaining elephants and placed them in a reserve full of trees and ensured that they would be protected.

After several years the elephants began to thrive and give birth. As the population of elephants grew they began to eat all the vegetation in the reserve. The result was all the vegetation was exhausted and the elephants had no food to eat.

Slowly the elephants started to die of starvation. Only this time there were no longer trees. The simple lesson of this story is you cannot solve problems using short-term programs. These solutions are not sustainable.

Here is where discipleship relationship connects to this story. Programs run by churches are not sustainable. We need to train people to build a lasting relationship with God and with the body of Christ and not rely on programs. Relationships are the only things that last and that are sustainable.

See Also: Prayer and Muscles

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