What type of things do you daydream about? When it comes to your life’s vocation, do you look forward optimistically or are your prospects grim? Before I go on let me emphasize that no matter what your circumstances may look like, God can bring about new beginnings, second chances, and fresh direction. “Never give up” is not always an accurate charge, because sometimes we are called to abandon our temporary desires and pursue His heart. When we do this, we realize there is more abundance on this route than the path we thought we desired. “Never give up”, however on pursuing God’s best.
The journey ordained by God will not always be new and exciting, or easy to navigate, but it will always be blessed. Therein lies the problem, at times, with pursuing God’s dream for our lives. So many people have programmed their minds and hearts to follow that which is new and exciting…essentially striving after the “godly” thing instead of the “God” thing.
If you are a Christian, you know that it is easy to start believing that the only sign that the Holy Spirit is active is the warm fuzzy/ goose bump-y feeling we often get during our favorite worship song. When we no longer feel that, it is tempting to move on to find it again. A mature Christian has realized that the Holy Spirit is always active in the midst of obedience, devotion, and rest in God’s promises.
So, back to the original question. What do you daydream about? Before I started the church that I lead, I had certain desires and dreams for what it would look like. I had small prayers like, “God, if you could just send us 50 people…” and I would fill in the possibilities. Then God did send that many. Then 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, etc. Each time my prayer would evolve to accomodate the next numerical tier. At the beginning, it was never enough. My old prayers involved begging God to help us not lose “momentum” so we would continue to grow. All of my results were based on numbers and the feeling I got when I saw the numbers increasing. When we didn’t see times of massive growth, i found myself feeling as if I failed (and satan always wants us to rely on our own resources). It is a cycle that many leaders find themselves in. My mindset had to change.
Guess what??? I am now happy to report that my church is old news. Yes, you read that correctly. We are old news. We have been around for almost 5 years, and we are not the “next newest thing”, and it feels fantastic. While, at the beginning we saw many people who came because of the excitement of “newness” (which actually was helpful for the mission), we now see those who are hungry for fellowship, servuce and growing deeper with Jesus. It is great. It is where we need to be. We definitely have much to improve, but we can now do so in a healthier mindset.
If you have been wrestling with the concept of starting a new church, allow me to extend some wisdom to you. Church planting is exciting, hard, frustrating, and overall worth every minute. If you learn to move away from the mentality of merely attracting more people with ellaborate programs, complicate structures, fancy lighting, the newest technology, and crowd gathering messages, then you will realize that God is waiting for you to be faithful and dedicated to truth. People need to be welcomed, accepted, and given a space for transformation through God’s word. Don’t allow yourself to gravitate to “what’s working” thus constantly being distracted from genuinely loving people.
God has blessed me with an amazing church, and I constantly thank Him for it. As pastors we need to start finding peace in the mission instead of our ellaborate daydreams. Then, we will know what joy looks like in ministry.
Keep fighting brothers and sisters. Love you all.