There is a major difference between a travel agent and a tour guide. This difference is seen best in white-water rafting. There are plenty of rafting outfitters from which to choose along a white-water river trail. A travel agent will mail you brochures. A travel agent will suggest a few rafting outfitters and a river to enjoy.
But a travel agent’s role ends there.
A travel agent spouts out intellectual information, hands you some brochures, and smiles. A travel agent tells you to enjoy the journey.
“Nice to meet you. Enjoy the trip.”
A tour guide is different.
Along the Ocoee, in the Smoky Mountains, there is a great tour guide named Tripp. The name fits. He literally is a trip.
Unlike the travel agent who hands you a brochure, he goes with you on the journey.
“Nice to meet you. Get in. Let’s go.”
Tripp knows the Ocoee. He knows each rapid intimately and talks about them with great energy. Double Suck. Moonshot. Flipper. Tripp enjoys each stage in the journey. It is fun to hear him share stories about the different parts of the river. You fall more in love with the river and the scenery because of him. You are inspired by his passion.
What makes Tripp a great tour guide is not his information. Even some of the local travel agents have the information. Tripp is great because of his love for the journey and because he takes you with him.
He takes you along the journey he has traveled. He does not instruct from a distance. He is with you. He is on the bus with you from the outfitter to the river. He is in the raft with you. And, if things do not go as planned, he is in the river with you.
Tripp has been where he is taking you. He is able to instruct because he is familiar with the journey. He speaks from a place of personal authority, and you listen. He is not perfect. His boat may tip over with you in it. But he is credible.
People need spiritual tour guides. They have had plenty of spiritual travel agents. Be a tour guide through the process of spiritual transformation in your church. Take people on a journey with you.
If you get in the boat, the ministry process will come alive. The ministry blueprint will make sense then. It will be clear.
Clarity is a huge first step, but it is only the beginning. You must now proceed to movement, the removal of congestion in your church.
Adapted from Simple Church (B&H Publishing Group, 2006)