Another word with two meanings

In the church world, DOOR is known as a “short-term” program. This is not always seen as a good thing. For 16 years, I have had to deal with a constant stream of difficult questions ranging from the philosophical to the practical.  This is an issue I have touched on previously, but the questions keep coming.

Lately I have begun to understand “short-term” as another concept that can be understood from two very different perspectives.

There is the time-oriented way of understanding short-term. Depending on how you define long-term, short-term can be anywhere from a day to a decade.   Critics of the time-oriented short-term generally focus on the lack of time to build mutual, trusting relationships.  Successful, productive and healthy ministry demands a long term commitment, they say.

I would like to propose a heart-oriented way to understand short-term.  This speaks to a concern that is not easily measurable.

Those with a short-term heart issue are people who always look back to where they came from.  They may be physically present in a ministry location for decades, but their heart is always somewhere else.

This can be dangerous and destructive.  It can even be argued that the longer one stays in a location with a short-term heart the more destructive they become.

I have witnessed young adults and teens who have come to DOOR for a short-term time period engage with a long-term heart.  When this happens, the spirit of God moves in powerful ways both for the short-termer and the people from the community.

When the discussion shifts from time to heart, measurability becomes much more difficult.  I do not always know where the heart is pointed.

For the past 16 years, I have given witness to the fruit that is born from both types of short-term. I can unequivocally state that the fruit from and open heart is preferable to what comes from people who are just putting in time.