Thursday, March 8, 2012


I'm currently reading GREAT BY CHOICE by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen.  Today I read the chapter called "Return on Luck." In this chapter, the authors ask the question: What part did luck play in the success of these 10X companies? As one might guess given the title of the book,  the authors conclude that luck does not play a significant role.  Essentially, great companies make their own luck, and overcome bad luck.

Tucked away in the middle of the chapter is this sobering observation: "A single stroke of good luck, no matter how big the break, cannot by itself make a good company. But a single stroke of extremely bad luck that slams you on the Death Line, or an extended sequence of bad luck events that creates a catastrophic outcome, can terminate the quest."

As someone who cares about church planting, and is himself involved in planting a church, I began reflecting on the bad luck stories I have heard in relationship to church planting. Promised funding dries up. Try as it might, the new church cannot find a place to meet, or one that fits into a meager budget. The planter becomes sick. While one these scenarios may raise questions,  the possibility of extremely bad luck is a scary reality for a church planter. (It's a scary reality in all of life, isn't it?)

As I read reflected on bad luck stories and what might go wrong with the church I'm currently planting, I was struck by a verse in the Bible I read this morning.  It is found  I Samuel 23:14. David is experiencing a whole bunch of "bad luck". King Saul is hunting him, intent on killing him. Saul is drawing near; the David story is about to end. Then when we read, "But God did not give David into his hands." God protected David. God did not allow David to experience bad luck.

Extremely bad luck is always a possibility when one is planting a church. But, church planters cannot live in the fear of what might go wrong; they step forward in the confidence that God will protect and provide. Planters operate in the confidence that  God will not give them, or their church, into the jaws of extremely bad luck.

It is relatively easy for us to see how God moves and provides positively on our behalf. We have a more difficult time seeing the ways in which God protects us from the "bad luck." Today, I want to be thankful for the good things God has done. Today, I also want to be extra thankful for the bad things that have not happened. And, while I find the chapter on "luck" very helpful, and understand the intent of the authors, I am thankful that I serve a sovereign God, who is in control of my luck, and the luck of others who answer the call to plant churches.