This principle is true for us collectively as well. Our fellowship of churches has a bright and glorious history of radical faith and devotion that “rang out” around the world.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it. We sometimes forget how incredible it is that God spread the message around the globe in about 20 years! I am humbled every time I share our story with a stranger to see how their eyes widen when I explain all God has done in such a short time. But like our biblical heroes in the faith we have also suffered defeats. The purpose of this article is to provide some helpful insights about the road to recovery.
God has allowed Joyce and me to serve in two rapidly recovering churches in the last 4 years, Baltimore, Md. and Boston, Ma.. Baltimore was a midsized church of about 250 disciples and Boston was an older larger church with roughly 2,000 members. Both churches had glorious beginnings but had slipped into a period of discouragement. We have seen several principles in these two churches that will be discussed here to help shed light on the “Anatomy of Recovery”.
One of my earliest memories as a college student was attending a Bible study in a dorm at Duke University and having a discussion on the “Parable of the Sower”. At the end everyone was asked, “Which soil are you?” I wanted to say “The good soil” but as I listened I knew I was in the weeds and my faith was being choked out. I always liked multiple choice tests and found it helpful to have 4 options to consider. This parable has five stages to choose from and I would ask that you consider carefully where you and your ministry are in this recovery analogy. I preached a sermon on this topic at the recent International Leaders Conference in Kiev. [If you prefer to hear that message you can (click here).] I pray that these thoughts can help you have clarity about what the next step is for you personally and that we can all grow in our walk with God.
Standing at the Crossroads Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. We are all tempted to think that we are unique and that our challenges are in some way exceptional and therefore require us to create a new solution. Paul reminds the Corinthians that our temptations are common to man and that God has already provided a solution for us (1Cor 10:13). Jeremiah’s admonition is to ask for the ancient path and walk in it. I am reassured that we do not need to rely on understanding the latest trend in psychology, or philosophy to find our way forward. We simply need to go back to the scriptures and trust God again. Then we will find rest for our souls.