I’m prompted to offer a simple word and a simple story.
Thanks for the sacrifices and risks that you make for the Gospel to be shared with people who don’t live in His grace. Thanks for being faithful. Thanks for serving and leading when it would be easier to comply and coast. Thanks for caring about a generation that’s saying “no” to the church they see and they think they know.
It was probably 20 or more years ago. Gail and I were sitting toward the back of a crowded banquet room. I think it was a PLI event. Then Texas District President Jerry Kieschnick offered a few words at the microphone that sounded something like the words above. I was moved…unusually moved. I held back tears. (I don’t do tears.) He didn’t know me. I didn’t know him. His words of gratitude connected in my soul.
God had breathed fresh life into the dry bones of our congregation a few years earlier. (Imagine God’s Spirit doing the unpredictable!) We’d traveled through an extended season of growth and fruitfulness. In shallow American church measures we were an unexpected “success.” But, now we had committed ourselves to some difficult decisions that would invest in the long term future of our congregation. Folks were challenged. Not everyone liked it. It didn’t fit the “what’s in it for me” measuring stick of some and the “will it make me happy” script of others. Gail and I were tired. We were making financial sacrifices and probably every other kind of sacrifice we knew to make. (Many others were, too!) We were tired of being judged. Tired of being criticized. Tired of trying to do our best with little fruitfulness to show.
Looking back, I can see that it was a time of pruning for both of us. A time of learning a greater capacity of faith in God and not our own skill sets. Maybe it was a time of pruning for our whole church.
And then a simple word from a guy who didn’t know me and who I didn’t know.
Funny… I really didn’t need anyone to thank me. It wasn’t going to change how I showed up for work tomorrow or what I did when I got there. But, I think, embedded in those few words were:
- I understand. There’s hope.
- It’s worth it. Remember the vision behind why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- The Father in heaven loves you as His baptized child, season of fruitfulness or not.
So, here are 2 things I’d like you to do:
- Share this and say “thank you” to someone who could use the same simple word passed along from you. We could call it #ThankfulThursday.
- And, wonder with me…if the Spirit of the Lord were to breath new life into the American church today, what could that look like?
A simple word in closing…