Once we come face to face with the selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it prompts us to respond…to take selfless steps of our own.
When we remember that we possess something in the person of Jesus Christ that can change the world, it shatters consumer mentality and we start to say: I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll go where I need to go. I’ll take the risk.
These are difficult days! There’s a cumulative effect we’re all feeling. It’s a season of pruning that can ready us for a season of fruitfulness.
Very few churches are gracefully returning to the way things used to be.
It has prompted me…
To think about what the people of God might be called to become. To do.
To think about Abraham and Moses or Peter and what they had to give up to faithfully follow God and to bear fruit of epic proportion.
To think about what we might have to give up ourselves. It sounds strange to speak of giving up when consumer preference drives too many church members.
To think of seasons in my own leadership life—difficult seasons—where our folks were asked to give up a lot to follow. Four such seasons stand out.
NEW PASTOR OLD CHURCH
Six months after my ordination and installation I stepped into senior pastor of our large, old, unhappy congregation. Newest on staff. Youngest on staff. My “didn’t know what I didn’t know” sustained my enthusiasm. And I was way too sensitive to criticism! There was a core group. They believed our best years were not our past years! The core became contagious.* It took deep changes…difficult changes. And the wind of the Spirit blew fresh breath into bones most said couldn’t live. (Ezekiel 37)
PERMANENTLY LAUNCHING TWO CAMPUSES
Lyle Muller and Kent Hunter giftedly assessed and painted a picture we couldn’t see. To make a deeper, permanent commitment to our changing neighborhood/urban congregation and launch another campus on the growing edge of town. Again, it was the courage of a couple that could see. And, the core became contagious. They challenged the rest. Fruit was born.
It’s always exciting to plant a new church..and always threatening and difficult! Again, a core group could see mission opportunities. The core was contagious. They inspired courage to sacrifice. Our folks did it twice during our season with them. First San Pablo. We failed a lot— mostly because of my ignorance—before God surprised us all. Then New Song. Simply saying good bye to 50 pioneer-types and a much loved associate pastor was a significant sacrifice for our folks.
NOT SO PERMANENT TWO CAMPUSES
My “there will always be an inner city campus of our church” no longer worked 20 years later in our almost exclusively Hispanic neighborhood. I had overpromised, and now under delivered. A few folks found that hard to forgive. And, as a result, several hundred older, whiter, English-speaking worshipers walked away from the church they loved and handed the keys of the church to a very gifted, fledgling band at San Pablo and prayed them well where fruit has abounded!
So, why the trip down my memory lane with an absolutely incredible group of followers of Jesus?
(Don’t be mistaken; there was still plenty of sin in evidence at any given time!)
- Circumstances were never easy.
- Leaders lead in good times and difficult times.
- And the Core! There’s the key. The Core! They collaborate and dream… become contagious…for the sake of following Jesus. They conclude whether the best years are past years…or could be future years! The Core inspires courage in the rest of us.
- Because, when you come face to face with the selfless sacrifice of Jesus, it prompts us to take selfless steps of our own.
On the far side of this ever so difficult 2020 season, you’ll need to ask the people in your congregation to take selfless steps—because of the selfless sacrifice of Jesus—and abandon their consumer mentality.
So, here’s what I think you should do! (Who am I to tell you what you should do?)
- Share this with a courageous couple of folks, your core. Simply ask them: “Are our best years our past years, or should we do something?” They could become the core that becomes contagious.
- Since social pressures no longer insure a stream of people coming in the doors of your church (even when it’s not COVID-19), sign up for the new, fully online, offering of Discipleship to Missional Community on October 29-30 with your core. Your courageous, contagious core! Raechel can assist you with 1,000 Young Leaders or the new launch of Not So Young Leaders. It’s time to build a new pipeline of leaders that already possess a Gospel that can change the world and equip them for the challenge.
- Download the church of 2030 eBook (download the epub or a PDF).
There is no joy that compares with the joy of knowing that you have something that can change the world. There is no joy like sacrificing for something (or SomeOne) that’s greater than yourself.
*Pardon my repeated use of “contagious” in the season of COVID-19!