To be a church led by God’s vision or not to be – that is the question.
Our church had an amazing day yesterday (Sunday). We gathered for worship with a HUGE crowd of folks who love Jesus. Some gathered in between services to connect and grow in small groups. And at noon we went outside in the Southeast Texas heat and celebrated the beginning of our new addition that will house our new youth space. It was just so obvious that God is moving through our congregation and in our community – and He has given us the privilege of being a partner in His work.
In the midst of the joyful day I also recognized a small pocket of discontent, some angst over what some perceive as a loss. The church is moving beyond the place where everyone knew “of” everyone else, even if they didn’t know them personally. We’re growing and seeing more people coming to find a place where they can experience the grace and love and power of God in their lives. One of the by-products of the growth is that we may not know everyone – we can still know many, just not all.
My intent is not to pass judgment on any person’s grieving over the loss of their familiar sense of church, nor to pass judgment on “big” churches. My point is just that we are moving into new territory and that’s never easy. Moving toward the unknown and the unfamiliar can be a difficult and a challenging path to travel
One of the Scriptures we talked about in worship was the story of Abram being called by God (Genesis 12:1):
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
Abram was being called to go into new and unknown and unfamiliar territory. The success of his journey was dependent on one thing – to go where God would lead him. He was called to go to a place that God would show him. He was a man who would be led by God’s vision for his life. He left behind the world he knew and seemingly enjoyed. He went on his way to discover a new adventure and new possibilities that only God knew about. Abram wasn’t perfect in his decisions, but God was faithful in His leadership.
I believe the same is true for the church. It’s not about being bigger or having a certain style of worship or doing particular ministry. It’s really about the vision God has for His people in this church or any church – the vision God has for reaching the least and the lost. If God calls us to develop a close-knit ministry where people know each other intimately, we need to be true to that. If God calls us to grow and to struggle with our connections in a larger community, we need to be true to that.
I appreciate Asbury United Methodist Church and the way the leadership and many others are anxious to follow God’s lead and live into God’s vision. I pray we will not let our own vision dictate our journey but we will stay true to God’s vision for us. I invite you to join me in that prayer.
Holy high five to you, Mike