My wife and I cried a lot that week because of the way we’d been treated.
We were praying to God and wrestling with Him about what He wanted us to do next. We wanted to quit and move on to the next thing. We wanted the issues we were facing to just stop, and we didn’t know how to make them go away. We were standing at the edge of the unknown of what God had for us next.
But that Sunday morning, as I stood on the front row and my wife sang on the worship team, our eyes locked as the Holy Spirit spoke to both of us as we sang, “We won’t move without you, we won’t move without you…The Lord our God is ever faithful.”
LEADING IN DIFFICULTY
After eight years, I look back on that season and I realize now God allowed us to stay three more years at a church we will never forget, He healed relationships and allowed us to continue to grow and He sent us out from our Sending Church — in health — as church planters.
God allowed us to plant Grace Point Fellowship through Send Network in the Cincinnati area, which has grown in four years from a Bible study in our basement to two services on Sundays (before the COVID-19 pandemic). Even now — in a new phase of the global pandemic — we have continued to grow and our attendance is high now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Had we left our church we were struggling at and stopped leading in our timing and on our terms, we believe we wouldn’t have honored God in our ministry. But by continuing to lead — even when things were difficult — God grew us and shaped us and moved us to where He wanted us to be.
In His timing, he helped us break through the leadership glass ceilings we thought were holding us back and taught us so much about leading others and remaining faithful as we continued to lead while waiting.
THE LEADERS WE NEEED
In this difficult season, God needs us to be leaders who lead while waiting, even though we don’t know what God has for us next. God still desires to use us to raise up leaders who will expand the kingdom in every Southern Baptist church in North America — even if some of us are still unable to gather on Sundays.
We need leaders who believe God is not shut down and that the church will not be shut down, believing that the power of the Church is not simply in a service, but in its ability to be a discipleship factory for the kingdom. We need pastors and church planters who will continue to help leaders break through leadership ceilings and remember that more ministry requires more ministers. We need pastors who realize the Great Commission and the call to go, teach, make disciples and baptize was not just given to them but to all the others waiting in their homes right now as well!
LEADING IN UNIDEAL CIRCUMSTANCES
I’m amazed at the members in my church who have creatively stepped up in leadership in this pandemic season.
As a pastor, I asked our staff and interns to consider how we could get creative and make sure that not one of our church members or attenders gets missed, even the ones who are not in a small group. They responded by:
- helping us create an online service, and a series of videos to stay connected with people throughout the week;
- producing kid’s ministry resources and a plan to call, text or email every one of our members to pray for them and make sure they know we still care about them; and
- finding opportunities to serve others in our community who have not even stepped foot in our building yet.
I’ve continued to find ways to meet with two of our members who I have been walking through Multiplication Pipeline1 with over the past year (though it is not as easy as it used to be). Emily, who is about to finish the first level of Multiplication Pipeline, has grown from being a shy, insecure college student to being someone who shares her faith with others constantly and graciously, coordinates a children’s ministry of 100 kids and around 40 volunteers each week and has led the creation of multiple ministries to kids in need in the foster care and local school system.
Rick, who also meets with us, is a doctor who wanted to reach unreached people groups in Cincinnati. Since he began Multiplication Pipeline, he has started sharing his faith regularly in his practice. He and his wife have helped start an ESL class and two after-school Bible studies in local elementary schools. They will also be helping start a new church in Hamilton, Ohio in the next year with our church planter in residence.
CONTINUE TO RAISE UP LEADERS
When times get tough, leaders keep leading others to lead. We keep inviting people into the process. We keep looking for Timothys, and as they learn and grow, we get excited about sending them out and allowing them to start new ministries for the kingdom. We do this because we believe and hope Christ will use those we’ve trained to do greater things than we have done.
And now, in this pandemic season, God has given us more time as leaders to train others.
In the midst of difficulty, God is still at work! He is refining His Church and shaping our future in the waiting! And it is up to us to continue to lead and give away leadership so God can continue right now to grow others for what He wants to do next. He is preparing them for something, and He desires to use us to help them get ready.
How are you training others in your church right now to be everything God desires for them to be — not just for your church, but for His kingdom?
“In the silence, in the waiting… yes, we can know You are good!”
For more information on the Pipeline and how you can train people in your church, go to namb.net/pipeline/.
1 Multiplication Pipeline is a free resource that helps you train leaders and send your congregation on mission.
Published July 23, 2020