Doing community outreach and trying to plant a church is tough work. One of the most difficult challenges I have faced during this process, has been getting other people involved and getting them to stay the course. In October, we did a project where we boarded up some vacant homes around the Elementary school where I do mentoring. While I was very impressed and happy about the help we received from our church, First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, Mi., I was a little disappointed with the number of volunteers from the community. There are so many other good things I would love to do for this community through 5point7, and I get lots of verbal support from people within the community, but there is still a lot of apathy which needs to be overcome.
[az_dropcap mode=”dropcap-color”]In all of this I am learning that God is the one in control, not me. And that this work will be accomplished in His timing, not mine.[/az_dropcap]
In spite of the challenging difficulties involved in this work, I can honestly say that it has been an exciting ride. What excites me the most, is seeing God do the unthinkable. A number of times, I found myself disappointed with something which didn’t go the way I thought it should, but then, my disappointment turned to jubilation as God ended up doing something better. Recently I have experienced a great deal of support coming from places I never would have expected. I’m seeing God opening doors and providing exposure for 5point7. It always turns out that what God does is far better than what I had planned. I guess the big lesson I’m learning is that this thing is about God and not me. Every set back has proven to be an opportunity for Him to remind me of just that.
A couple of things God is teaching me through all of this is patience and reliance upon Him. I so desperately want this vision to come to pass, and I get super excited when I see progress. But the other side to that, is I get down and sometimes discouraged by setbacks. For every win there’s seems to be a loss. Every time of progress is followed by times of stagnation.
I’m learning to humble myself and look to God, after all, it is Christ who declared, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). He is the one who adds believers to His body (Acts 2:47). Sometimes, the things we lament as failures or as missed opportunities, are actually doors He has closed because it was never His will for us to go through them (Acts 16:6; 7). I think the biggest lesson of all I’ve learned, is the importance and necessity of prayer. As I am constantly being reminded that it is Christ who builds and adds to His church, that it is Christ who opens and shuts doors (Rev. 3:7), I find these realities driving me to my knees to pray. I am constantly being forced to acknowledge my inadequacy and my sinfulness.[az_dropcap mode=”dropcap-color”]If 5point7 Community Church is to become a reality, it will be the result of God’s blessing and power, and not of anything I’ve done.[/az_dropcap]
This is a good thing. Coming to the end of myself, learning to trust God more and expressing that trust through more heartfelt prayer has been a tremendous spiritual blessing. So has been the privilege of seeing God do the unthinkable before my eyes. As a church planter, learning to trust God can be humbling, but the reward is far greater, it’s the reward of seeing God glorified in our weakness. (2Cor. 4:7)