It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here. It’s definitely not because I’ve had a lack of musings going on inside. I feel like a soda bottle that’s been shaken vigorously, so I may be writing a lot over the next few days.
Over the last few days, my family and I have been with Liz’s brother, Bill, and his family in Denver, PA. Yes that’s correct. We went from Denver, NC, to Denver, PA. Who would have thought that 2 siblings would both live in Denver, but they would be in different States, none of which is Colorado. Bill’s church invited me to speak to the men over this past weekend, so I spoke about 5 times in 3 days to various groups in the church. We’ve had such a good time with the people here, and especially Bill and Joy, who have such a burden and passion to see Christ glorified in their church. The church reminds me of a lot of churches that exist in our country today. It’s small. They have an older building, and their expression of corporate worship is very traditional. It’s filled with kind and generous people. But there’s something missing. They have the right theology, but there is a lack of movement by the Holy Spirit. They know it too. They invited me to share with them about the process how God started moving in our own church, especially over the last 3 years.
As I shared my story as a pastor and how God has shaped me by His Word and His Spirit, and as I shared our story together of what He is doing in our midst, I was humbled. I don’t think anyone can take a look at what God is doing in them and around them and ever take credit. If one does, it may be one of the worst offenses before our Savior. I think the things that the Holy Spirit prompted me to share (which I’m going to put into another post) were received graciously. I hope and pray that this church will be a city on a hill in this community again. They have everything they need to make it happen, i.e. the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. But as I reflect on my experience here in Denver, I had 2 thoughts I wanted to share with all of you.
1. No church is immune to becoming stagnant. We’ve been blessed that we, at Providence, have experienced a rich time of God’s moving and blessing. People’s lives are being changed by the gospel, and multiplication is starting to take place. There’s been a growing spirit of sacrifice and community that is exciting. It’s definitely a fun place to be in as a church. But it can all stop. Just because God moves today does not mean that He is inclined to always do so. Don’t get me wrong. In some ways, the church’s birthright is one in which God desires and wants to bless it. I believe, though, that we can become the speed bumps, and even the stop signs, in the road for the Holy Spirit to work if we are not careful. All it takes is for one person to start gossiping in a small group. All it takes is one person, especially a leader, to wander into a world of sin and bring dishonor to the name of Jesus. All it takes is for us to get pretty proud about what God has done, and lose our hunger for greater glory for our Savior. Complacency, sin, and pride can bring down any church, and size of a church has nothing to do with it. My prayer is that we will remain humble and holy as we seek to spread the fame of Jesus in our community. All that has happened in our church should just be the beginning.
2. We need more missionaries. I don’t mean in the traditional sense. When you hear missionaries today, you think foreign, oversees ministry work. But you know I’ve been saying this all year, “you are all missionaries”. Success is not determined at Providence by how many we gather on Sunday morning, but by how many we send out. I believe that as God grows leaders and couples at our church, that He may lead many of you out to help revitalize churches in our community to become gospel-centered once more. The work is long and difficult, but if we want to see a gospel renewal in our culture, we are going to need a multiplication movement of new and revitalized churches. My prayer is that many of you at Providence will heed the call of God to “Go” and make disciples, as you plant and breathe life into churches across our landscape.
Our trip from Denver to Denver has been memorable because it’s shown me how fragile churches are. Let’s remember to remain humble and holy as we pursue the glory of Christ today.