Two nights ago we had a gathering of our Desert Foursquare leaders and church council. This is a recap of our time together.
We are nearing our one-year anniversary, which we will celebrate on Sunday, February 17. Our word of the year for 2012 was, “Open Hearts, Shared Lives”. The culture-push for our church was to be the church , not “do” church. Being the church is not an event. It’s a lifestyle and calling that requires of us that we open ourselves to what God asks of us.
Two nights ago, I shared what the Lord had laid upon my heart for 2013. I started by reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, Chapter 4, in which Francis points out that, “None of us is good soil”. God does his work in us to make us his, only after we accept that we are his. The specific word we have at Desert Foursquare for 2013 is, “Belong to God”.
John 8:47: “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
We don’t make ourselves good, but when we submit ourselves to God, he makes something good through us. Everyone wants to belong to something, but that longing comes from a deeper need we have to belong to God first.
I recently saw Les Mis. This epic story follows Jean Valjean as he lives a life in service to God, having been redeemed by a Bishop Myriel who saves Jean from certain punishment. Grace was extended and Jean’s life course is changed. Jean realizes he belongs to God. The real story though, for me, is in Bishop Myriel’s life. A man humbly living in service to God, demonstrating the grace of God and knowing the heart of God.
The Bishop realized who he belonged to. Equally important was an understanding of who is his brother. I love that picture of belonging to God. Oh! That we would have a true sense that the slave is our brother.
There were three things I shared with our leadership team that accents the culture of belonging we desire to reinforce. They are:
1. Prayer. Pray for people, with people and around people. When someone shares their pain, ask them if you can pray for them. In a conversation, ask if you can pray for them. Inquire of everyone how you might lift them up to our Lord.
2. Presence. Be in the moment. Society continues to accelerate, but we have to brake. Slow down & listen. Love. Laugh. I just wrote it, but it bears repeating. LISTEN. Can you remember what someone just told you? Saying that you’re bad at remembering names is another way to say you suck at listening.
3. Patience. We’re nearly one year old, with a congregation of about 75 people. That’s average, which is three times our number exactly one year ago. Based on that and several other metrics (finances, accountability, etc.), we are doing really well. It would be easy think that we need to grow. Fast. More. Bigger. Better. I sincerely believe that God will bring us the growth he desires in his time.
I remember hearing Mark Driscoll talk about Mars Hill’s meteoric growth in the first five years. After five years, not one of the people who launched was still around. Growth should never come at the expense of burning out your team. When you belong to God, he won’t crucify you. That bill has already been settled. But if that’s true, why are so many church altars littered with the remains of burnt out pastors and leaders? There must be a balance of patience.
I see the breath of God stirring the hearts of those who are a part of Desert Foursquare. I’m excited for the opportunity to dig into what it really means to belong to God.