(Highlights From the Past Year series)

My oldest son and I are coaching a fourth grade basketball team this year.  Some of the kids have never touched a basketball.  We had three practices before our first game.  The first one I was happy that most of the balls hit the backboard.  Layups looked like klutzy ballet moves.  So Brady and I had them work on footwork.  Then passing.  Then defense.  “Coach, when are we going to shoot the ball?”  Learn to dribble first.  “Coach, when are we going to scrimmage?”  Learn to pass first.  “Coach, when are we…”

At the third practice, we had them work on two things only.  When you’re on defense, keep your hands up!  When you’re on offense, spread out!  (There’s a herd effect in games, where the basketball has this sudden mysterious magnetism that pulls on the eyelets of basketball shoes and draws ten kids into a five foot square area and then causes everybody to yell, “Pass it to me!” even though they’re only six inches apart.) 

The guys didn’t like that practice.

In our first game, guess what?  We led at halftime 28-0.  It wasn’t that we were better.  It was that the guys were doing the simple things well.  All our points came because guys were spread out and passed on offense and we stole the ball on defense.

Recently I was thinking back over the past year and all the trips and training that took place.  (Hence this Highlights Of The Year series of catch up blogs!) There’s a human urge in almost anything we do to do more, better, faster, and with a bigger splash.  But I really am a believer in simple things done well.  This past year, we’ve been praying and going off the beaten path to difficult places to teach believers who are persecuted for their faith how to…tell stories?  There’s a human desire to say, “Coach God, when can we do something bigger and cooler and sounds more spiritually deep than telling stories?”  Learn the basics first.  They are important…

336In an Asian country, seven people we trained last summer went to a remote jungle village.  For two days they shared stories in the village.  Twenty-eight Buddhists accepted Christ.

In a west African country, a group from a church that went through a one day training shared parts of the Gospel of Luke through stories.  Twenty-six Muslim men stood up to say they believed what they were hearing to be true about Jesus.

From a group in Asia along a closed border that we visited, I got an email.  “The brothers are seeing more fruit than we have seen in a long time.  When can you return and teach somewhere else?”

One friend asked me last month, “How do you make the ministry better this next year?”  There are plenty of things that can be improved, but we won’t lose this perspective – do the simple things well.

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