CHESTERFIELD, MI – When you’re down 18 points at the half, on the biggest sports stage ever, it can be easy to think “it’s over.” Many sports fans around the world believed the Atlanta Falcons would be the winners of Super Bowl 51. Think about it: you only have 2 quarters of football left and you’re down 18 points. The only offensive success had been to get within field goal range! But after an epic comeback, the Patriots emerged victorious 34 – 28.
Church Planting is not always crazy, overnight “unexplainable” growth.
We launched Storytellers Church (Chesterfield, Michigan) in January of 2014. Our initial group consisted of 4 people. We then began holding “worship services” in the basement of my home in the summer of 2013. Then we began having public, monthly preview services at the local high school. By the time we launched, nearly 100 people showed up. The next week? 20 people showed up. In 3 years, we’ve gradually seen more people in attendance. These days we average between 80 – 120. Most days, I find myself disappointed and anxious thinking “why aren’t more people coming? It’s been 3 years!” To be honest, there are days where it seems like it’d be easier to call it quits and go do something else.
But God has been doing a work in me. It’s been a slow grind but I had a breakthrough a few weeks ago while at lunch with our guest speaker from our 3 year anniversary service. He said “you’re like the quarterback of this team and it seems like you’re heading into the locker room with your head down. You need to learn how to celebrate the 3 to 4 yard plays. There’s nothing wrong with gaining 3 to 4 yards every play. Eventually they’ll add up to a first down and eventually you’ll make it to the end zone! Sure, it’d be great to have that long pass down the field but they won’t all be that way and you can’t only look for that. Sometimes God needs us to just put our heads down and march down the field 3 or 4 yards at a time.”
Learn to celebrate those hard fought 3 to 4 yard gains.
He was right! The type of growth we’ve seen as a church plant is by no means flashy or resembling long yardage passes or exciting breakout runs to the end zone. But it’s most certainly the 3 to 4 yard plays and we are definitely moving the ball down the field! Imagine if Tom Brady went into the locker room at halftime and said “Listen guys. We should be much farther ahead than we are right now. Other teams who have won have typically been doing better at this point so we might as well call it quits.” That would’ve been the worst halftime speech ever! Instead they figured out a way to get back out on the field and march the ball down the field a few yards at a time.
Stop constantly looking down the field for the long pass that looks amazing or waiting for that breakout play that everyone gets excited about. Church Planting is not always crazy, overnight “unexplainable” growth. Learn to celebrate those hard fought 3 to 4 yard gains. Celebrate strengthened marriages in your church or people reading their bibles or tithing for the first time. God may be calling you to a season of short yardage gains that never make the highlight reel. And if that is the call on your life or in your ministry in this season, the only response is “Here I am Lord. Send me, even if it’s 3 to 4 yards at a time.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Ball is lead pastor for Storytellers Church and part of a dynamic team committed to impacting the community God has given them to plant.