August is a time of transitions. Some people are finally going on vacation, while others are coming back from theirs. Students will be ending summer break while others who have graduated will be entering the workforce for the first time. Some may be considering a career change, further schooling or perhaps even relocation to pursue new employment.
Our church is also in a time of transition. With a new Youth Pastor now on staff, many new programs and relationships are being formed. Our Building Committee continues to consider the possibility of new facilities. New members are seeking to find their places of ministry within our church, while existing members are reevaluating theirs. Transitions are not always easy, but there is one thing we can do to make them easier, and that is to pray.
The wisest king who ever ruled on this earth, Solomon, knew much about transitions and starting new ventures. He describes many of them in his book of Ecclesiastes, as “meaninglessness, like chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 1:14). Perhaps that is why he later wrote in Proverbs 16:1-3, “To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Solomon knew that while it is often common to try many things, ultimate success comes from God alone. Therefore we need to be ‘in tune’ with what God wants us to do in order to succeed.
This is why prayer in our church’s life is so important. If we begin building, either spiritually or physically, new programs or facilities, unless they are what God desires for us, they will not succeed. I have always found that the most fulfilling and fruitful ministries are the ones where I found out what God was doing, and jumped on “His bandwagon” for the ride. But what is God’s passion for our church?
He promises us that if we seek him, we will find him, IF we seek him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). Jesus encourages us to seek, ask and knock on heaven’s door until we receive an answer. If God knows the plans He has for us, and we know that God loves us, it is reasonable to expect that He will let us know what those plans are. But have we sought them out from Him in prayer?
God is more concerned about our relationship with Jesus Christ and our relationships with one another than with our church size or building facilities. While some may measure ‘success’ in terms of ‘noses and nickels’, God measures success in terms of faithfulness and fruit.
Maturity in Christ
God has appointed me, as your pastor, according to Ephesians 4:11-13, to “equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ”. Jesus wants those at LRPC to become grown-up disciples, not just bible scholars or novices.
In order to ‘put first things first,’ we need to stop and pray. Before considering a new direction or ministry, have we prayed about it thoroughly so as to be certain? Do we really want to be a part of God’s plans, or do we simply want God to bless our plans? I would like to encourage each one of you to consider a more devoted prayer life, not only individually but also corporately in the life of our church. What would happen if every church member came to Wednesday night prayer meeting at least once a year? Would we become more united, more powerful, and more certain of God’s direction? We will never know unless we pray! Brothers and sisters, in all your decisions, in all your transitions, pray!