Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I know it’s been a while since my last update, but as we all know: the most wonderful time of the year is also the most busiest (pardon the grammar).
All churches experience a bit of an attendance drop during the holidays and we are no different. But we look forward to the New Year, a new commitment, and new opportunities for people to worship with us. This brings me to our prayer needs.
The first new opportunity, though it will actually start second, is that we are going to be hosting a study of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We just completed it ourselves, can attest to the change that it can bring, and can attest to the great need for this kind of thing among thirty-something (or whatever age) suburbanites. This is one of the main areas of ministry that God called us to when He called us to plant a suburban church. We pray this will open the doors to further ministry. This will start on Sunday, February 1st in the evenings.
The second new opportunity, the one that will start first, is a Tuesday night Bible study. We have couple of reasons to start this. First, it will be a little different from our Sunday morning Bible study in that it will be more topic-based, rather than book of the Bible based. It will also allow us to reach those that may work on Sunday mornings or, for whatever reason, have trouble making it at 10 AM. This will begin on January 6th at 6:30.
These two new events, along with our usual Sunday morning time, will put three different hooks in the water for us. We pray that we catch a lot of fish. But the new opportunities bring new financial needs that aren’t in our budget. And right at the end of the year is a great time for folks to fill-out their charitable giving budget.
For Financial Peace, we need the leader’s kit. The kit costs $300. We need someone to give for that purchase. We also need a DVD player (a TV has been graciously donated). If you would like to give for that, please consider a gift of $50.
The last financial need is an outreach tool as well. One of our community papers lists church advertisements. The community papers here in the area are very well read. We have the ability to have our church name and info in front of thousands of people. This paper is delivered to all addresses—it isn’t subscription based. The cost of this advertisement is $25 a week. We need someone to fund it for 6 months, for a total of $600. This could be given in lump sum or monthly. If you feel led to give any of these items, you can mail a check or give online.
Thank you so much for your prayers. Most days, the road seems very, very long and very, very steep. It’s only the confidence of our call, the confidence in our Caller, and the push of your prayers that keep us going. But it gets really hard. Please, do not forget to pray for us.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
To begin with, a number of financial needs were met right when they were needed. This includes a very generous and wonderful couple that has paid for the rent for our apartment for the next 7 months. Praise God!
We had an outreach carwash last Saturday that was staffed by professors and students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Houston. We washed a number of cars and made about 10 contacts with residents in the complex. I want to take this opportunity to thank those from SWBTS that came to help:
Dr. J. Denny Autrey
Dr. Doug Wood
Dr. Benjamin Phillips
Dr. John Laing
In advertising for the carwash, we sent out postcards to every unit at the complex. The result of that was a young lady joining us this past Sunday. We are so excited to have Kendra with us. This increases our number to 9, and we can honestly say that, since July of this year, we have more than doubled our attendance.
This past Sunday night I was able to meet with the missions committee of the church that is considering being Summerlake’s sponsor. The meeting went well and they are going to bring it before the church for a vote the first Wednesday of December. As I have said before, this will provide us with even more prayer support, more man-power, and the next to the last piece we need in order to be funded by the SBTC (The final piece is a core group of 25-30 people).
And then finally, Monday night and all day Tuesday, I attended the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting here in Houston. It was an incredible time of worship and reflection for me. I was able to meet old seminary friends, catch up over the last two years, encourage and be encouraged. God also used former professors, sermon texts, old friends and new acquaintances to encourage me in this church planting endeavor. The convention feels like the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Summerlake. I don’t know how to describe it other than God’s peace and joy. I felt that I belonged. I felt confirmed. I told Etta about various occurrences and conversations, but the phrase that kept coming up was “this was good for me.” It was.
Thank you so much. God, through your gifts, support, and prayers, has made this mustard seed of a vision from almost two years ago into a church. We have no clue where this is going to end up, but we are excited about the journey and anxious to see what God will do next.
This is going to be an incredible ride and we are thankful you are going along with us.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The first is that I have met with a local pastor about their church’s sponsorship of Summerlake. When everything is official I will give their name. He is discussing it tonight at his church’s business meeting, will pass it off to the missions committee, and hopefully vote to sponsor us in their December meeting. This is what will ultimately open us up to convention funding. It also provides mentorship, prayer support, muscle support, and financial support. We are excited that there is a church willing to come along side of us and support us in such a strong, visible way.
The other praise is about our finances. I told you that we were $500 a month short. That shortage was going to have a tragic effect on our ability to renew our lease for our apartment. A very generous family has stepped up to help by turning a family member’s death to good. They asked what we needed and, when I told them how shaky our lease renewal was, they donated from their inheritance an amount to cover our ENTIRE 7 MONTH LEASE. We praise God for their generosity and are so thankful to be able to continue our outreach.
Speaking of outreach, we have our community carwash coming up this Saturday at 2PM. We pray that we can build a number of relationships with community residents and see our fellowship grow.
It is everyone’s faithful giving and praying that will allow us to continue to reach out and see God work. If you would like to give to Summerlake, please click here to donate online. Thank you so much for what you do.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
For the month of October, we are over $500 behind in our budget. For the months of August through October, we are over $1500 behind.
We need your prayers. if you believe, as we do, that this right where God has us and plans to continue to use us, pray with us that the funds will be there as needed. Pray with us that we will see tremendous fruit borne from our outreach initiatives. Pray that we can grow our core group of members to about 25-30 people in order to qualify for national, state, and local convention assistance. Pray that God will show you how you can be a blessing to us: by your monthly financial support, by being a daily prayer partner with us, or by even joining us as we plant in Summerwood. God may be leading you to come alongside us and be an active part of the amazing things that God is planning to do through Summerlake Baptist Church.
Your support and help does not just affect Summerlake. Remember, our goal as a church is to start our first daughter church within three years of our first full-church worship service, and to plant 5 churches per year after our fifth year. These are lofty goals, but they are the vision that God has given us to see the Kingdom expanded through the New Testament method of evangelism: church planting. We don’t want to just add to Summerlake, we want to multiply the Church.
Please join us—in whatever way God leads. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to us and our call through Jesus Christ.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We have some great outreach events in the works. We have talked to the event coordinator at the complex and Summerlake will be volunteering at/co-sponsoring/sponsoring some upcoming events. Etta and I are basically going to put into practice those things that we did when we were a CARES Team with an apartment ministry called ApartmentLife. We never really thought it was preparation for anything, but God knew perfectly that it was.
We are working with our complex on their Fall Festival on October 25th. We intend to host breakfasts, dinners, car washes—anything that exposes us and Summerlake to the community and helps us to build relationships with the people of our Jerusalem (see Acts 1:8). We are in discussions with the Wrights, our other church members, about block parties in their subdivision to build relationships with their neighbors. They live only about 7 minutes from Summerlake. We are also looking to advertise in a community swim team’s newsletter. This will get us a good bit of exposure in our area.
In addition, we have a contact at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Houston and he approached us about teaming up with them in an outreach event during their 50 day evangelism focus. A team of students and professors will come up and staff an event in our community. The date is November 8th and it coincides with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s evangelism focus that same weekend. The SBTC is having its annual meeting in Houston this year and it is always preceded by an outreach weekend. We are hoping to tie it to their event and have some people who are here for the annual meeting involved as well.
As you can see, God has us in this specific place at this specific time. Things are happening around us that we never thought of or planned for, but God is dropping them in our lap. Please pray for all these outreach opportunities that we might reach people for Christ through them.
Also, please pray for our finances. In both August and September we were about $500 off on our giving. That means we are currently about $1000 short. With our tight budget, everything that comes in goes out and there isn’t much wriggle room. Please pray that there will be a financial recovery for us. Our bills are paid up through October 1st but our rent comes due on November 1st. We are seeing real occasions for outreach in the complex so your prayers and financial support will help us continue to reach out to the hurting hearts with the hope of Jesus Christ.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Luke 8:22 One day He and His disciples got into a boat, and He told them, "Let's cross over to the other side of the lake." So they set out, 23 and as they were sailing He fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm came down on the lake; they were being swamped and were in danger. 24 They came and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to die!" Then He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, asking one another, "Who can this be? He commands even the winds and the waves, and they obey Him!"I know my title seems harsh, but I like controversy. And so you know, this blog is in response to me thinking about health-and-wealth, name-it-and-claim-it, word-faith preachers. And I refuse to qualify my title before I make my point.
When did Jesus perform the miracle? When they said they knew He could calm the storm? No. When they said, "Jesus, we believe"? No. It was when they woke Him up because of their lack of faith. They had no faith that He could fix it. It was simply the fact that misery loved company. They were upset that Jesus could sleep through their apparent death. When they woke Him up, He didn't tell them they had done the faithful thing by waking Him, He told them they had no faith. Faith did not bring about the miracle.
Where then would their faith have been found? In their trust that they would get to the other side regardless of the storms. Faith is found not, necessarily, in the miracle that gets us out of the jam, but in the perseverance that gets us through it.
Now, the qualification. Should we not pray for miracles? Sure we should. But we are not to depend on miracles, we are to depend on sustaining grace. We should pray for the faith to make it through, not just for the quick-fix that ends the problem.
If you are going through a struggle, pray for God to deliver you. But more so, pray for the faith to see you through the situation.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
You read it right—Summerlake Baptist Church is about to begin with it’s first Bible study. Etta and I went Sunday afternoon and rented the apartment in Summerwood. A very generous donor has supplied us with the finances to sign a 3 month lease. We are planning an intense three months of outreach to try build up membership and raise enough funding to keep the apartment. Obviously, anything you can give would be a tremendous help. Etta does not have a job yet, but we were compelled to make this step of faith and trust God for the rest.
Pray that we add to our Bible study. We have a few prospects already and we hope to have many more. We have begun some Servant Evangelism by going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s in Summerwood, paying for the food for the people behind us, and leaving them a Summerlake card. We are also looking at some outreach activities at the complex. Pray that people respond, not just to grow our fellowship, but to grow the Kingdom through salvations.
We also have some physical needs some of you may be able to help with. Following is a list of things we need (some we would just like) for the apartment. If you have any spares of these lying around, we would love to take them off your hands for you. We want the apartment to have a cozy, homey feel. It will also serve as my study. That explains the things we are looking to procure.
Coffee pot (12 cup)
Coffee urn (20-30 cup)
Chairs (the cushy type you have in your living room, not folding or straight-back)
Book cases (3-4, I have a lot of books)
TV & DVD player (for nursery)
There may be other things we need that we haven’t thought about. We will keep you posted.
The most important thing, however, is prayer. I tell Etta that every time I think about what is happening, I want to throw up. (Not really, but you know what I mean) It’s real now. Summerlake Baptist Church is no longer a theory, concept, or idea. It’s a place with (a few) people and all the responsibilities that follow. And let me explain the responsibilities. Have you ever looked at the sky at night, and, as your eyes adjust to the darkness, you see more and more stars? That’s how I feel right now. As I look deeper and deeper at planting the church and the fact that we are picking up steam, and my eyes become more used to seeing it, the job seems infinite. And it probably is. So please pray. I’m not overwhelmed, yet. Just realistic. And as excited as all get out.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Etta still doesn't have a job yet and I haven't found one closer to home. We are okay if nothing changes but so many things would improve even if only one of us would get a job in Humble. Also, as I said and Etta said, Etta working presents us a great opportunity to greatly expand and move forward in our efforts to plant Summerlake.
If Etta does not get a job, we have some other ideas on the table (do you know how expensive store-fronts are? OMG!!), but our first choice is the apartment. As Etta said in her post, we now have the finances to rent the apartment for three months. That will allow us to begin some heavy outreach, get a small group going, and (hopefully) increase our funding so we can keep it. Now our prayer is that they have a three month lease at the complex.
I don't know what our location will be in the coming months, but I feel very strongly that it's time to start. We have affiliated with our state convention (SBTC) and will soon be able to register for our non-profit status. We are oh-so-slowly getting the foundation laid, but the progress is forward. The strongest tug I have is to start the Bible study. D-Day is Sunday, September 7th at 9:30 AM. I pray it is at the apartment, but only God knows.
Pray with us as we continue to seek His will. We want to be bold, strong in faith, but not stupid. We've done that way too much in the past. It's not all that beneficial.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Below is an outline of some things we have planned but need financial support for. If you would like to be a financial supporter of Summerlake, contact me and let me know. Anything you give is a great help toward starting this church.
Summerlake’s financial needs for outreachPlease give generously as you have opportunity. I know the economy has not been favorable but I am confident that God, “who is able to do more than we could ask or imagine.” will bless your liberality. Your prayers and financial support are what enable us to continue toward the vision God has given us for Summerlake.
Apartment for first meeting place $1000 mo.
Park giveaways/BBQs: $150 ea.
Backyard Bible Clubs: $500 ea.
Manuel’s: $100 mo.
Website: $150 mo.
Phone outreach plan: $3000
Direct mail marketing: $4000
Thursday, May 15, 2008
If Davis was like any of the many republicans the Republican Party tells us vote for (i.e. moderate, big-spending, pro-choice, pro-illegal immigration, pro-global warming insanity, pro-pointless gun laws) then I would have voted for the conservative democrat as well. I’m tired of having moderate republicans shoved down our throats and being told that we have to vote for them to keep a republican majority. No, I don’t have to vote for them.
I will vote for the most conservative candidate running for whatever office is on my ballot, no matter the party. I am a registered republican, but values are thicker than registration cards. Instead of crying about losing majorities in both houses (and they will probably lose more members this November) they should be returning to the values that got them the majorities to begin with. They need to return to the conservatism of Reagan and have the same will to fight for those values that Newt Gingrich had. Remember, Gingrich pushed for (and won) Reagan values during the Clinton presidency with his Contract for America.
Some other problems with republicans—I’ll let Sean Hannity say it. “Maybe if they can’t live up to the basic standards of honesty and integrity and character and decency and morality, maybe they should put aside their ambition and get their personal lives together.” Or maybe they should not get voted into office and they'll realize the error of their ways.
So this November, I, an evangelical Christian, will vote Republican for president. I am not voting for McCain; I am voting against Obama. However, were there a democratic candidate more conservative than McCain, I would vote for that person. Were there a third party candidate that was truly viable, and also more conservative than McCain, I would vote for that candidate. I will vote for the most conservative candidate available, but I will also vote to keep extreme liberalism out of any political office. And, frankly, I believe that is the responsibility of all Christians—that is, to vote Biblical values first and foremost and let them guide the rest of the political decisions we make.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Narcissism is rampant. The idea among most pastors is that it's all about them. "How can I make a mega-church? How can I get on TV? How can I get my name known? How can I be impressive?" These are not the questions pastors are called to ask, but they are increasingly the goals to which pastors aspire. I've seen pastor after pastor start ministries, put themselves on the radio, and make their names on the church sign nearly as big as the name of the church. All in the name of evangelism? Yeah, right. All in the name of promotion--and not the promotion of the gospel. Seriously, what does http://www.pastorsname.com/ do to spread the gospel? I dare say, not much. Now, promoting a narcissistic agenda? Well, then it works quite well.
And when will pastors learn to just be a person?
Why must we put on our plastic face every morning and attempt to present to the world an idealized persona? The world isn't ideal. Life isn't ideal. Sometimes it sucks and we need pastors that will say it. We need pastors that will say we lust, that we struggle with our own finances, that we need help, that we often seek (and enjoy) the power and recognition, that we often succumb to narcissism, that we question whether or not God really knows what He's doing, that we are huge fans of Aerosmith. Pastors are only regular sinners, saved by grace, and called to a specific and special task. We are not special. We have no anti-sinning cream. We have the same responsibility to live the life to which Christ calls all Christians and we struggle just the same. And luckily, we don't have to preach our lives, we preach the inerrant Word--that which greatly surpasses and completely overshadows our failings. And besides, our sins and struggles as pastors help the flock to see that everyone's flesh is in constant struggle with the spirit.
I'm not saying that pastors should sin in order to give better object lessons. Nor am I saying that our sin is excused out-of-hand. I'm saying that we must be real. We cannot lead the lost to Christ by our holiness. We lead the lost to Christ by showing people Who is truly holy. People cannot relate to and will not follow a wax dummy. They will follow someone they know has been and will continue to be in the trenches with them.
In my life I have known two pastors that were real. To the best of my knowledge my childhood pastor, Pete Evans, was real. He was just a guy. The other one that I know was real was Pete Jory, the pastor under whom I served at First Baptist Galveston. Other than that, I've seen plasticity and I'm sick of it. I'm mad as Gehenna and I'm not going to take it any more.
Pastors, say it with me: narcissistic duplicity is bad and, if we ever learn to say it, we are taking it out of our vocabulary. It has no place in the church and no place behind the pulpit. We are turning people away from the gospel because of our conniving and hypocrisy and it has to stop. As pastors, it's high time we were honest with our congregation.
As fearful of this subject as we are, we have to have authenticity in the pulpit. I want people to ask me how I'm dealing with sin. I don't want them to be fearful of judgement because I portray myself as perfection personified. Because we are nowhere close to perfect. Hebrews tells us that we have a high priest that understands our struggles intimately and has overcome temptation. It is ludicrous for pastors to work so hard to convince the congregation that they can't relate to sin and give the impression that they've conquered it. Regardless of the many God-complexes out there, pastors aren't Jesus.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Etta, except for a few college years in Arkadelphia, had never been just a church member. She had always been part of a staff family, even after we married. I started in the ministry when I was 20 but was not real knowledgeable of church goings-on prior to that. So, for both of our most vivid memory banks, we had been on the inside of decision making and saw all the behind-the-scenes activity that translated into church decisions. That all changed when we joined the church we attend. Now, though we occasionally hear some reasoning for decisions, for the most part, we are as in the dark as everyone else.
Then there is the whole “upset church member” thing. As part of the staff, as long as it wasn’t immoral or unbiblical, I supported the decisions of the pastor/staff and I never had to blow the whistle on immorality. I saw what was done and why and said, along with the rest of the staff, that it was what was best and folks could go along or get along.
But now, we understand how that feels to a church member:
We now know what it’s like to hear a result of an event spun to fit a particular mold or expectation.
We know what it’s like to have staff members fired (or asked to leave or given an untenable choice or whatever) and miss them and think they should still be here.
We know what it’s like to not be happy with a particular part of the church but love enough parts of it not to leave.
We know what it’s like to sit in the congregation some Sundays and be so prepared to hear from God that every word of the pastor is directed right at us.
We know what it’s like to sit in the congregation and be so blasé that it seems the pastor is mumbling in Swahili for all the effect it is having on us.
We know what it’s like for the actions of one or two to ruin the entire worship experience for us.
In short, we know what it is to be church members. Thank you, Lord, for the lesson. I pray it makes us better ministers when the time comes to lead a congregation. I’m afraid so many of today's ministers started when they were 20, never sat as an active member of a church (only as an air-headed teenager), and then have attempted to lead congregations with no real knowledge of how their actions effect the people in the pews.
I pray that other ministers, along with me, can admit that still God teaches and, I pray, still we learn.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
It sure slapped this daddy around.
W. Livingston Larned
condensed as in "Readers' Digest"
Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
These are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy!" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!"
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boy friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightended with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding--this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!"
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.
I, too, have asked too much.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
You should be proud of yourselves.
The only positive side of this is that America will be primed for the conservative values of Mike Huckabee after four years of Obama/Clinton hyper-liberalism.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Etta sent me a blog post by a friend of hers where she quotes from Elisabeth Elliot's daily devotionals. If you don't know who Elisabeth Elliot is you can get to know her at her website. The quote is from John Coleridge Patteson, an Anglican Bishop and 19th century missionary to Melanesia, and is as follows:
"My objection to mission reports has always been that the readers want to hear of progress, and the writers are thus tempted to write of it; and may they not, without knowing it, be, at times, hasty that they may seem to be progressing? People expect too much. Because missionary work looks like failure, it does not follow that it is. Our Savior's work looked like a failure. He made no mistakes either in what He taught or in the way of teaching it, and He succeeded, though not to the eyes of men."
This so describes how I feel about Summerlake. We are missionaries to Summerwood. Our church is not a split or splinter but a from-scratch start. Thus, we have much different expectations and time-frames than your run-of-the-mill church split. I won't belabor the point because I feel I expressed it well enough in my last post. I will say, however, that regardless of whether no one funds us (though a few are), no church sponsors us (as it appears none will), and no convention supports us (wow, the red tape), we will continue to labor. Our success is not defined by land, people, or buildings but by faithfulness - faithfulness to the call of God. By that measure, we are already successful.
Let me say again: this is God's church and God's timing. Dear reader, it may look like we are doing nothing. Often, I would agree. But we are being obedient. We are not giving up just because the road is tough or the temptation to quit fighting is strong. Noah didn't quit building because of ridicule, Abraham didn't give up because of age, Jacob didn't give up because of trickery, Joseph didn't give up because of treachery, Paul didn't give up because of shipwreck, John didn't give up because of exile, and we will not give up because of qualms, hesitation, uncertainty, doubt, and misgivings - on our part or the part of anyone else. Others may not believe in our call, and sometimes we may not either, but we believe in the God that called us. We move forward "not by might, not by power, but by [God's] Spirit."
There is your mission report of progress.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Now to the plans man laid...
If you click here, you will read all about the incredibly well-planned timeline for Summerlake Church. Of particular note is the fact that in the timeline it states that Summerlake will hold its first service on January 13. That's this Sunday. It won't happen. If you click here, you will go to a page that says we will hold our first service in September 2008. I'm not holding my breath for that one either.
Here's the problem:
God called me to plant a church and told me where He wanted it. I then proceeded to take care of all the rest of the planning. Without His input. Not a bright idea. I had figured out that the state convention and local association would think it was brilliant and would provide a landslide of support. I had figured out that 5-6 churches would be chomping at the bit to help start a church in a fast-growing suburb with one of them giving us about 20-30 people to serve as our core group. I had figured out that 20-30 people would want to give generously to this new work of God. I had figured out that we would have the funds, and I would therefore have the time, to have an all-out blitz of Summerwood, mass mailing, and phone contacts and have 75 people clamouring to be a part of a new church. I had figured out that we would probably launch our first service with about 200-250 people. I had figured out...I had figured out...I had figured out.
What I had not figured out was what God had figured.
After waiting all summer for all the above things to happen, and they not happen, I was more than a little discouraged. Then God said to go eat supper. What?!? Through a series of events, it became clear to us that God wanted us to eat supper at Manuel's.
So we did.
And have been.
And still have not started a church.
This is not what I signed on for. I signed on to start a church and preach and minister and baptize and plan and envision and lead and go and give and...and...and...Not eat supper.
But we have ministered. Read Tales from Manuel's to see how we've ministered.
It's just not what I had planned.
But it's what we are supposed to do.
Most weeks, I still wonder, I still don't understand. I pray that God will bring something else about, that we will move forward. But here we are at Manuel's, waiting on God.
One of the most difficult things is to explain this to people. We tell them we are starting a church. They ask if we have a building. I say no, that we are eating at a restaurant. They say oh. And they look confused. I understand.
But I also understand that God is ordering this whole thing. We are determined to do the last thing God told us until He tells us to do something else. I have to remember that this is HIS church, not mine. It is HIS plan, not mine. It HIS timing, not mine.
Turns out, He figured it all out. And that's all I need to figure out.