SWARTZ CREEK, MI – I would like to encourage every church planter, pastor or church member who reads this article to understand that God has already given us everything we need to grow and mature our churches. There is no BIG secret…only FAITHFULNESS to His Word and OBEDIENCE to His call.
I know that sounds simplistic but I’ve found it to be true in the life of the church that I have been blessed to pastor for 25 years. Don’t get me wrong, there have been challenges along the way. Challenges that no doubt you are all too familiar with. I hear you, but I want to encourage you!
When God called us to pastor 1ST Baptist Church of Swartz Creek, it was after some hurt and pain endured by this church community. I knew it well, because I was here. Many folks had left and just sort of drifted away. Not far, just away. Attendance went down, down, down. Workers were hard to come by. The budget suffered incredibly, as you can imagine. Who would want to come to a church like that? Afterall, there was no pastor and no staff—only a few dedicated people trying their hardest to plug the holes of a leaking ship.
There is no BIG secret...only FAITHFULNESS to His Word and OBEDIENCE to His call.
When God called, I wanted to say “No thanks, God,” but I knew I would never be happy outside of His will. So, “Here I am Lord, send me.” God showed me that it was His church, and He would do the multiplying. I just needed to be faithful. Our responsibility is to Him, and I promise you He wants nothing more than for His church to be obedient to the ministry that He has for it. He desires for His church to be…dare I say, “successful”?
That success may look different from one church to another, but it will have some common foundational truths that guide it. What we’ve learned is to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. With a very small congregation and few workers, we prayed earnestly for God to send people, but not just anyone—servants to jump right in and get to work. Incredibly, God answered and two families who had served as deacons and teachers and song leaders showed up and asked, “What can we do?” Let me tell you, when you see God answer like that it brings an excitement to the whole body. It’s a fresh wind in the sails.
We also learned to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Those folks who had left were hurting, and felt as though God had abandoned them. So, we reached out to them, loved them, and shared with them that God had not left them. Again, faithfulness to God’s Word brought many of them back, and they are still serving today.
One more lesson, we needed to learn was to always be true to the WORD, WORD, WORD. We live in a time when many church leaders feel as though we have to somehow water down the Word to make it palatable to the unchurched. Not so! I find what our culture is longing for is the truth. Church planter, pastor, church member, be true to the Word, and you will find there are many in your community who just want the truth.
Pray, Love and Teach the Word of God. There are many things that can be difficult about church, but we’ve learned that if you “Love one another as Christ has loved you,” your church will be a magnet to a lost and searching world needing a place of refuge.
Let me encourage you. Never give up and never give in. Our God is mighty to save and that’s the TRUTH.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Nelson is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Swartz Creek.