Last year I was faced with making a decision to close our 5 1/2 year old church plant that I envisioned lasting forever. Let me not sugarcoat, but be perfectly honest. Making this decision was hard. Just 2 years prior to this point, I had emphatically told my pastor that I would never leave my church. His response, “If it’s your church you will never leave. If it’s God’s church you will leave when He tells you.” Now standing in the reality of this moment, it was time to see who the church really belonged to.
There had been so much invested, spiritually and financially, into building and planting the church. Many countless hours spent praying, studying, standing alongside through difficulties, counseling, you name it. Knowing all that I had invested made it hard. The lives of those who had committed to serve alongside us were being greatly impacted and after spending five years sharing a vision that I thought would change the city, the feeling of letting them down began to weigh heavily on me. The Lord was now leading me in a different direction.
Although I have gone through many transitions, this one was the most challenging. In my previous blog
I referenced that transitions are tasks that should never be taken lightly. I had no clear step. No other job lined up. This was going to be a true faith journey, all about trusting and following God. In spite of the church’s faithful, yet roller-coaster history, it was the hard, but right decision to close its doors for good.
After some time to really evaluate, I have learned that the pride and stubbornness of a leader can sometimes hinder the bigger plan of God. As a visionary, I’ve learned not to limit vision only to what God has shown me about my life, but always remember that He holds the bigger picture as it relates to His ultimate purpose in the earth. Even through the wrestle within, instead of questioning, steps of obedience were taken. From this experience I would like to share 4 areas that, I believe, are crucial for a church to make a life-changing impact in the community:
Vision must, first, be God-inspired and it must be clear. Knowing why you exist is essential. But understanding how you achieve your goals is imperative. That’s vision! It is what takes a dream from being just a dream and begins to mark out clear steps and plans of action to see it fulfilled. Ultimately, vision is what determines the route that the church will take, as it relates to what God has placed you there to achieve and what God has placed you there to accomplish.
Without a vision the people perish, but without leadership the vision never comes to life. Leadership and those who serve as leaders within the church must be owners and carriers of the vision. God-inspired vision will always be bigger than the visionary. So you will need to build a team that not only reflects your drive, passion, and commitment to reach the community, but also build a team that will reflect who you are trying to reach within the community. The church will only become what the leadership team is.
At the root of it, giving flows from a healthy and thriving relationship with Christ. It is a choice that those who are connected to the church must make in obedience to and love for Christ. To make sure that the place where they have been planted has enough resources to not only continue to help them grow, but also receive the resources necessary to fund, further, and fulfill its vision. Giving can be taught. The church should be educated in the importance of giving. But it is ultimately is a matter of the heart, imperative in order to achieve God’s purposes within the community.
Passion is what gives your vision focus, aim, and intentionality. It becomes the target or bullseye within the overall broader scope of the vision. It is what drives or defines your level of intensity or investment and determines what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve the goal. To a certain extent, passion can be developed. But it is critical that those within the church begin to pick up a passion for the vision of the church. Because passion is what is necessary to get people involved and participating in the purpose/role that they are called to play, to help build the church.
The privilege of pastoring, during that time, was an amazing experience. Celebrating with those who gave their life to Christ was the biggest highlight. I believe whole heartedly that God smiled at the love and grace shared with our city. My heart’s desire will always be to see people healed, whole, and renewed. For now, patience will reveal what’s next. I look forward to sharing my journey with you.
Remember to dream bigger, dream bolder, dream that God’s best is possible for you.