“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” ~ Jesus
Today’s blog is more for the people here at Wesley Chapel, but Jesus’ truth about possibility is valid for everyone.
I haven’t been completely honest and I need to be. Last week I spent some time at the old Wesley Chapel Church that sits on the hill almost visible out my office window. After a couple of hours of Bible reading, laying hands on the old church, walking the grounds, and prayer, God impressed upon my heart what He had planned for Wesley Chapel and that I/we need to be prepared, laying the foundation now. What I got from Him was that within 5 years He will have 600-800 people worshipping at Wesley Chapel. And that’s where I wasn’t honest. I’ve been telling people here 500. I don’t know how I thought 500 sounded any more realistic or less crazy than 600 or 800 to a church who has probably never averaged more than in the 140’s at the peak of Sunday morning attendance.
At first I wasn’t going to tell anyone. I thought, “What if it doesn’t happen?” Then I thought about when I came out of Pastor’s licensing school in the spring of 2007 convinced that I was going to receive a full time appointment. I told three people- my wife, my pastor, and our district superintendent – that there was a full time pastor’s job out there for me in the United Methodist Church. I didn’t know how absurd that was. It just doesn’t happen that way. Nobody goes from not being a pastor to being full time in the UMC without extenuating circumstances. How it happens in the WV UMC is that you become a part time pastor in the area in which you live, keeping your day job, and being pastor of 2 or 3 small churches. It nearly always happens that way. But God is not bound by the way we normally do things. And as only He can do, He orchestrated an impossible chain of events that blessed my family as He sent me to be a full time pastor to a single church in a wonderful community.
I also have a great story about God letting me know that I was supposed to preach in place of our pastor at Sistersville one Sunday morning when I attended church there and that someone was going to come to the altar to accept Jesus. Suffice to say that He also saw that one through. So I have a history with God letting me in on some things He plans to do. Of course, I’m not always right. Yet the times I’ve been wrong, I’m not sure if I was just plain wrong or if I/we just failed to execute the plan that God had for us to achieve Plan A, and we settled for God’s Plan B.
To bring this to a close today, on the one hand, it’s not about the number of people in church. On the other hand, it’s very Biblical for churches to grow in numbers. Do you not think that God wants Bible believing, Jesus glorifying, Holy Spirit empowered churches to grow? He wants us to make disciples, so He surely wants them gathering with other believers. The church should be an incubator where faith grows and admirers of Jesus become His followers. Or as Charles Spurgeon puts it, “…the edification of the saints and the salvation of the sinners.” But sometimes we in the church stand in the way of church growth. I believe one of the biggest obstacles to church growth is boring sermons. I don’t want to offend fellow pastors, and I don’t mean the pastor needs to keep people entertained, but Spurgeon also writes, “It is not often that sinners are awakened by ministers who are themselves asleep.” If our church does not grow like I believe God told me it would, I don’t want it to be because I am making God’s Word boring.
I could be wrong about our church exploding in numbers. Or, we at Wesley Chapel may simply fail to achieve God’s Plan A for us. Or maybe in a few years, I will add this to one of the ways God has done the impossible in and through my life for His glory. I happen to believe Jesus was being literal when He said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” With God, all things are possible. And that’s Good News in the church, in our personal lives, and especially Good News for those of you who face seemingly impossible circumstances or situations.