I have to start this post with the disclaimer that I have been sick for the past several days and right now I am flying high on a couple tablespoons of Nyquil. :) Whatever is said after this may not make sense and will not stand up in a court of law. :)
In between coughs and snot blowing this week (just keeping it real...), I have been thinking about what God is doing right now with this church. For whatever reason, God seems to have put his hand of blessing on us to have an influence in this community right now.
I remember our first year as a church. In a LOT of ways, it was rough. You've read about the churches that go from 0-2000 in their first year...that was not us. My family and I dropped into this city in April of 2004, and we knew four people. Two of them have since moved back to Charleston! No one would return my phones calls - real estate people, schools, other pastors - no one! I had one local, influential pastor tell me that he would not trade places with me for anything in the world. That felt good. (Cue the violins)
The dream of starting with 300 people and the next week having 400, and the next 500...did not happen. We opened our first Sunday with 315 people and pretty quickly settled in at around 120 every week. Our first summer, we dipped under 100 on a couple of Sundays. I was on vacation for one of them...I almost didn't come home. I remember standing on stage on one such Sunday and thinking, "This is not what I signed up for God".
The weird thing was - we were not doing things a whole lot different than we are now. We've always had really good music, the teaching is very solid, the core team volunteers were awesome. But yet, we were not ready...I was not ready. I am amazed when I think about how much God has grown me in the two and a half years since we launched Seacoast Greenville. I needed that time to figure out why this church exists. I needed time for God to break me and use me how He saw fit - not how I planned it. I have given up a lot of pride since April 2004. It's no longer about what I can do to grow this church. I know now that I've got nothin'.
That's why it's kind of amusing to me now that suddenly - I get phone calls returned. In fact, I am now the one returning a lot of the calls. If they only knew! I do know one thing - I will always return those calls. I know that as quickly as God can bless, He can also lift His hand of blessing. I have seen it happen. We've all got nothin' without the power His Holy Spirit behind us.
I don't know where you are at as you read this. Maybe you need to let God break you. He needs to break you before He can use you. I wanted to give up several times (and still do on the occasional Monday :)), but I am so glad that I did not. God had a plan and it was so much greater than anything that I could ever dream or imagine. And He's not done yet...