It has been quite some time since I sat down and attempted to write some thoughts on this blog and probably by now I am the only one who even remembers that this is here, so I am writing for posterity I suppose. Beyond that it has also been a time filled with several ups and downs in life and ministry. Church is a consuming thing in my life and the life of our family. I am a pastor of a struggling church that struggles due to its pursuits of God's Word and also because we are situated in a community that would rather deny the existence of God over dealing with the reality of God. But we also struggle because we want to see God do it, and do it now.
What is "it"?
"It" is that work, that manifestation, that sign, that miracle that we believe will revolutionize our ministry, increase our average attendance, bolster our monthly reports, and bring the bottom line up just a bit more each year. "It" has a way of being different for so many different people and different ministries, but "it" is what we are all pursuing it seems. However, in this past year our church has faced the "it" syndrome and been forced to deal with "it." It is not about what we want or what we think. It is about what God wants and what He thinks. I know....Duh!
But please, bear with me here. Do we not get so easily sidetracked, and easily sideswiped by the push and pull of marketing, management, and manipulation? We all want our churches to grow, but in what and at what costs? I have struggled with why God would bring in such quality people and then usher them all over the U.S. in job moves. I have struggled with why we were seeing so much growth and now, very little. What is this all about and am I the problem?
Ok, enough about the downside of this. Over the past few months, God has really challenged me to remember whose church this is. To hold up, stop for moment and focus on the real purpose of our ministry. You should do that sometime. What are you as a body good at? What are you doing that makes you distinct from the other 2-20 churches in your little area of impact? For us we are focused on discipleship. We are focused on believers and that means we will be growing slower and it will mean those who do not want to grow will not be as comfortable with us. It means that our people do evangelism on their own and occasionally with the group instead of counting on me to do all their evangelism for them. So, that leads to a slower growth because our sphere of influence is growing as fast as we communicate the Gospel individually.
I have also needed to remind myself that I can't make people come to my church and convince them that this is where they need to be. That is a work for God. I am just to be patient, plodding, and persistent in the areas that are founded upon the integrity of His Word and the talents and strengths He has equipped us with in the local assembly.
Today I was reading in a devotional, Morning and Evening. The focus was upon Psalm 27:14, Wait on the Lord. I loved the thought that came from that and wanted to share it here to help me remember and anyone of you that happened upon this today.
It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christan soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God's warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? The writer then gives some obvious human reactions like worry, fear, or just plain rushing ahead in a spirit of presumption. But the words that came next challenged me and instead of such faithless reactions the words of encouragement were to instead, Wait in prayer. Call upon God and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid....be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord....Wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in him....Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses....accept eh case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God.I have a two year old who loves the excitement of jumping in the car or being allowed the opportunity to step outside with his older brothers or me when I am working or just going out for the split second. I often hear him yelling, "Wait, Wait!" He wants so desperately to go with me or to enjoy the freedom that moment affords him.
How true it is for us when we wait. Spending time with our God, rushing into the freedom of His presence and walking step by step with Him. Be patient, observe the moment God has you in, and allow Him to be the "it" that you are truly seeking.