A recent ad by the Canadian investment firm Nesbitt Simpson featured this line: "Anyone can ride a bull, but it takes discipline to dance with a bear."
That's true, as any recent investor knows. When a "bull market" is surging ahead, as it was through the early 1980s, everyone makes money. But when it's a declining "bear market," that's not the case.
Pastoring has its equivalent. A friend, who'd never experienced significant growth of the churches he'd pastored, has suddenly enjoyed a spurt of numerical growth. "I'm not doing anything different," he claims, "but all of a sudden our congregation is expanding rapidly." That pastor is riding a bull market.
The fact is, several other churches in his community are experiencing similar growth. The demographics of his community, the subculture of his congregation, and an influx of transferees have all coalesced to nearly double his congregation in a couple of years. It has revitalized his church.
Many of us, however, are in a bear market. We work ...1