Do you dream of a day when a movement of multigenerational disciple-making emerges in your community? Are you also connected with an established church that has deeply established cultural roots, norms and values?
If you answered “Yes” to both questions, welcome to the context in which many of us labor.
Many of us across the state pray and labor toward movement in an established church context. Many of us read about movements with awe and maybe even a sense of despair, knowing that the church should be doing more. Be encouraged to remain faithful, diligent and patient.
Here is some encouragement I’ve received along the way.
- Learn to dance
In his book Union With Christ, Rankin Wilbourne writes of two songs playing in our heads at all times. The first song is the song of grace. It is the song that calls us to rest in Christ and His perfectly accomplished work. The second song is the song of obedience. We must follow. We must labor and we cannot stop. Learn to dance to the rhythm of both songs. My tendency is to focus on obedience and progress, failing to rest in the all-sufficient grace of Jesus.
- Change is hard
It’s easy to say but infinitely more difficult to believe: change is really hard. As a pastor, I so desire change to come quickly. Waiting on the Lord is hard for me. For many faithful members of our established churches, the concept of multigenerational discipleship is new. Extend radical graciousness to those saints who seem hesitant. We are called to shepherd the saints along the way. It doesn’t mean that we leave people where they are, but it may require us to slow down a little and love them well through change.
- Jesus cares more than I do
No matter how much you love the church and believe in the mission given to her, Jesus loves the church more. I have to remind myself that this church and this harvest is not my gift to the world or my project to fix. I must love the bride as Jesus does, because when I do, I always want more for her, but I can also enjoy the goodness that the church possesses with greater awe and joy.
- Don’t act on excitement alone
I have confused my excitement for the Spirit’s call more times than I care to admit. When I have been desperate and the “right strategy” or “program” made its way across my desk, I was often far too quick to respond out of excitement, rather than out of true leading. I regularly pray this prayer from A Valley of Vision:
“Help me never to mistake the excitement of my passions for the renewing of the Holy Spirit, never to judge my religion by occasional impressions and impulses, but by my constant and prevailing disposition.”
These are just a few things the Lord has taught me along the way as He graciously allows me to labor toward a disciple-making movement in an established church. It may be hard to see at times, but the Lord is working in established churches across the state. The work will be slow and we may not be the generation that gets to see it unleashed, but that’s alright; this is a long game.
As we labor together, let’s encourage one another to remain faithful, diligent and patient in the work to which we are called.