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when my church died...


A year ago, I was chest deep in seeking God and the counsel of several mentors about future of the church that I was leading. This was my first full time ministry position following my graduation from seminary. When I took the position, fully knowing the condition of the church and what "they" said about it, I was filled with hope and faith for what God would do in and through this church...

Eventually the harsh realities of being a small congregation struggling with finances and numbers, and fighting hoops of denominationalism, it became clear to me and to the leadership of our little church that it was time to close the doors.

This decision seemed to fly in the face of the faith that I had been preaching and absolutely devastated me and the folks who had bravely partnered with my wife and I in giving this redevelopment project a go. It was decidedly the hardest ministry decision that I had ever made, and probably will have to make for a long time to come (hopefully!!!). But I am confident that this was a decision that was from the Lord...and ultimately was best for the purposes he had for His church.

We had made wonderful progress in the short time that we were together, the finances were again in the black, the people were beginning to show signs of catching a vision for others who needed to hear of the saving grace of Jesus, and there was a sweet sense of worship each time we gathered. Ultimately though, the church was suffering from spiritual, mental, and emotional exhaustion from the past years of disappointment and struggle. For real progress in this situation...the church needed to close.

As I have processed the pain of this event...and I think there was more pain for me than I realize...I have learned so much, but mostly this simple truth: When we experience moments of death we should pray for, and can expect great moments of resurrection.

We serve and know the God of resurrection, of new life, He desires for this to be a reality to us not just when we pass from this life, but each day that we are with Him here on earth as well.

I remember so well the intensity of the emotion in those last days there...I remember the fear of not knowing how the Lord would provide for my family in the coming months...I remember the frustration of the thankless job of sifting through years of accumulated "church stuff" in preparation for vacating our premises...but I also remember the joy of God answering my prayers for a breakthrough in my life...I remember the joy of meeting with the pastor of another church who graciously began to shepherd many of those in my church...I remember getting a call out of the blue for a new position...before I had even started looking...

A year later I am on staff at an amazing church with such a missional heart. I have seen God move so powerfully in my life this past year....beyond anything I could imagine. I am in a season of my life where I am experiencing growth and stretching in ways that I wouldn't have imagined a year ago.

Many of the folks who were part of that church have experienced resurrection as well. God has brought them to new, and healthier places spiritually...and it is exciting to see. Some of them I am still praying that God will do a break through in...but He will...

I think sometimes we hold tight to things that God wants us to let die, because we are unsure of the Christ's promise of resurrection...

...He lives.

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Terrific post Matt. You are indeed a testimony to what God will do when we obey Him.

Man, that's an awesome post!

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