The "Richard Petty Lane Change" Scenario

I had a friend in high school who was a genius with cars. His were fast, handled well, and sounded manly.

One night, on our way home from a Josh McDowell lecture, my friend suddenly announced, “Hey — check out this Richard Petty lane change!”

Now, we drove together all the time and I knew about Richard Petty Lane Changes. Still, these were the days before seat belts, and a lurch is a lurch no matter how prepared you are.

My friend yanked the wheel to the right and I sailed across the bench seat to the left, pinning my friend to the door and jamming my knee against the steering wheel. Which meant he couldn’t pull out of the Richard Petty Lane Change. Which meant we didn’t just change lanes, we crossed all three lanes and caught air by slamming up and over the curb.

Which resulted in two front wheels pointing in different directions.

Remember that saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? A couple months later I was driving a pile of kids to an event. It was a friend’s car (he had the car but I had the license), and it was fast. So fast I thought we’d have some fun swerving the rear wheels back and forth. “Hey, watch this!” I shouted, jerking the wheel to the right. Both front passengers came slamming against me, pinning me to the door . . . and sending us off the road, through a drainage gully, and up onto a berm separating the road from the bayou. It also separated the exhaust system from the bottom of the car.

What does this have to do with youthwork? Earlier this week I talked with a guy who thought up some ambitious discipleship plans for his group. He mentioned them briefly in a meeting and then flung them into action. His church had fair warning, you might say, but not really. As soon as he launched his plans everything came unglued and screeched to a halt.

Sudden changes in direction don’t always come off well. As tough as it is to plan, pray, communicate, test, and roll something out, there’s wisdom in it. There will still be resistance, but scattered opposition is nothing like a pile of bodies flying across the seat.