Discipleship

Waiting on a Moment

The life of following Jesus is a fair bit of waiting. You have a desire for transformation, for your heart and mind to change. After all its promised, its sanctification, becoming more like Christ. There are moments of advance, or revision, or renewal, of revealing. But there are also a lot of moments of waiting.

Expand this reality to pastoral ministry and the ache for these things moves from a longing for personal change to something larger, for a body of believers, for a real move of God to grow his kingdom and his people. That’s what I have been feeling.

A big take away for me from the last couple of weeks of a break is how growth comes in rest. Did you know your body grows when you are asleep? Soil is an unsuitable environment for vegetation to grow if it is constantly turned over and disturbed. Spring comes after a winter rest.

I have been trying to find these moments of rest, for me and the church, over the last months but it has been increasingly difficult. The pandemic and social unrest don’t leave much room for downtime, even if we are quarantined at home! It has been four months of constant turning of the soil. Decisions to be made. Material to produce. Aching for growth.

Reading Joshua 14 this morning I saw again the need of rest. The first chapters of this book are conquest. The nation coming into the Promised Land. The is turmoil, enemies afoot, uncertainty. And Joshua leads through it all. Then at the end of chapter 14 we read, “And the land had rest from war.”

From that rest, the land was divided up, cities built, a people flourished.

What will our growth look like if we let the ground rest? How might we set down the plow and see what springs up? How might God move as we wait on a moment?

The soundtrack for this rest is going to be Chris Renzema’s song “Let the Ground Rest.”

Been waiting on a moment
Been waiting on a sign
Waiting for them to call your name
And you’re next in line
Been waiting for your time to come
You’re fifteen minutes in the sun
So don’t you find it strange
That God, He made four seasons and only one’s spring?


So just let the ground rest
‘Cause if it’s not right now
It’s for the best
You’re gonna grow, I know this
But for now, just let the ground rest


You’ve been waiting on a moment
Been waiting on a sign
Waiting for the lights to change
When you won’t feel so stuck or so left behind
Been waiting for the day to come
When you can leave behind what you’ve become
Wash it all away
These flowers only grow once they’ve tasted rain


So just let the ground rest
‘Cause if it’s not right now
It’s for the best
You’re gonna grow, I know this
But for now, just let the ground rest


‘Cause He’ll finish what He starts
He started this I know
But if you saw the plans
Maybe you wouldn’t go
I watched Him plant a seed
And then let the ground rest
So child, oh, believe
‘Cause I promise there’s a harvest

Discipleship

A Visual of Multiplication by Subtraction

Last week I shared a post from Alan Frow on his forthcoming book on church multiplication. I also shared the post on our church site with longer quotes from the book. Because of the drama involved in a church with a multiplication DNA it has stirred up some conversation.

One of my ministry partners that thought it an important call, we shall call him Gopher Benji given his line of work, shared the following visual illustration of church multiplication.

Your post this week about subtraction and its pain reminded me of an analogy of church planting I observed over the past six months in propagating my succulents.  Here it is in a nutshell, with my amateur photographic journal:

1. Plant 1, well-rooted (sorry for the algae…)

2. Plant 1, now under duress, as half of it was broken off to be re-planted.

3. Plant 2 — formerly the top of Plant 1 — growing, putting down roots — notice the roots don’t have to be huge, just need to be present.

4. Plant 2 gets lopped off — now much smaller and under stress.

5. Lopped off plants (one or two from Plant 1 also) to plant… some won’t make it, but some do!

6. Plants 3 and 4 planted — from Plant 2 — now growing!

7. Meanwhile Plant 2 struggles but starts growing again.

8. Meanwhile Plant 1 has also been growing.

9. Now Plant 1 is ready to potentially plant 3 more new plants! Ready for another ouch?

It’s intense! Plant 1 has turned into 4 plants (potentially 7)… each with the potential to keep multiplying. The plants have scars. They’re not symmetrical or textbook anymore. But they are alive and making more life.

Intense indeed, but a great visual to remind us that life goes on in multiplication, especially when the vinedresser is as skilled as our Lord is! Be encouraged friends, keep going.

Book Review

After Easter Now What Does the Church Do?

Okay pastor. You have survived Easter. You took out all the stops, you rang the bell and poured on the hospitality. You even preached your heart out. Perhaps attendance was the highest it has been in a long time and it seems some of the visitors might even stick around.

What now? Where do you go from Easter and how do you keep the momentum? May I suggest you preach the gospel and let that drive the church?

Wait you say, I preach the gospel, every year at our revival service! No I mean every week, from every text, for the glory of Jesus and the good of your church.

Enter Jared Wilson’s book “The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace.”

Wilson gives a practical guide to transitioning to gospel-centrality (which believe it or not is not a normal thing in the evangelical world).

Grab the book, hang with other gospel-driven pastors and get going into grace. It is what the church is meant for!

Here are some choice quotes to whet your appetite:

“Healthy, fruitful churches are made up of Christians who are searching out God’s ways and following the trails of doctrine in the Scriptures straight to the throne. “

“Real Christianity cannot be reduced to methods and ordinary human metrics. It must always for the supernatural.”

“May we never mistake our busyness and bigness for the breath of God.”

“The gospel refers to the good news that God sent his Son Jesus to live a sinless life, die a substitutionary death, and rise from the dead so that sinners who repent and trust in Jesus will be forgiven and have eternal life.”

“A gospel-centered church is one that explicitly and intentionally connects its teaching, programs, ministry philosophy, and mission to the content of the gospel.”

“The gospel will hold and sustain your church in a way all the relevant programming, applicational teaching, and worship experiences never will.”

“Gospel-driven preaching is preaching that proclaims and exults in the revealing of God’s glory in Christ.”

“The power of salvation and the sanctification that follows comes only from the gospel, not the law. In other words, the power for to-dos comes not from to-dos, but from the “was-done” of Jesus Christ.”

“The gospel is not fully preached until people have been called to respond. The call can sometimes look like practical application points, but more generally it looks like prophetic pleading that urges hearers to turn from their way and embrace the way of Jesus. “

“A church centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ will be turned inside out because the gospel rightly grasped compels a church to join God’s mission in the world. “

“Over time, the gospel preached, applied, and empowered by the Spirit will coalesce a church around Christ, and from this gospel focus, people can be galvanized to move outward in mission.”

“If you want a gospel-driven ministry, you must resign your will to the supremacy of the glory of Christ and trade your personal ambitions for the beauty of Christ’s bride.”