A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in a restaurant having dinner when she says to me. Give our server an encouraging word. This made me remember back when we started our church we realized we would need to do church differently. People were different and times were quickly changing. It caused us to ask God regularly how in the world do we reach these hurting people that are all around us. The Lord’s directions were so different than what we had ever done or experienced. One of the things we did was clean the neighborhood every Saturday and then buy dinner for everyone on Sunday evening. This neighborhood had a lot of partying and there were beer bottles everywhere on Saturday morning. So, our team would walk through the neighborhood sweeping and cleaning and asking people if they needed anything. They thought we were crazy at first, but we kept coming back.
We Learned to Transform People Through Loving Them
Then on Sunday nights we would buy enough food to feed the entire neighborhood and then knock on doors and ask people to come and eat with us. It took about a year to win the neighborhood, but once we did we saw a regular stream of people reaching out to us for help and inviting us to their events and yes many found the Lord. One thing we loved to do was go into a restaurant and give our server an encouraging word. It used to freak them out, especially when there was a bunch of us. We would all share something the Lord showed us about them and then we would give them a huge tip. Many times tears would run down their faces as the words were shared and the money always made believers out of them. Our goal was not to just grow our church it was to change the atmosphere of our community.
As we grew in ways to reach people our borders kept extending as well. We began traveling to Mexico to help and then Haiti and then Africa and Asia. God was expanding our vision and love for his people. It wasn’t all perfect, we also had some real painful failures along the way, like the time we led a prostitute to Christ, but had no where to take her to get her off the streets and she was found dead later that week. We learned community and how to build relationships with all kinds of people. Building the kingdom is really about extending the family.
I Began to Arise When I Found What Niche God Wanted Me to Fill
I say all this not because I want to pat myself on the back. On the contrary, I really never felt like I succeeded or finished the work there. There was always so much to do and never enough help and our church never grew real large. But, I understood a simple principal that was taught by a mentor. No church wins the city alone. It takes a city wide church to reach any city. Therefore, I began pulling pastors together to meet and pray regularly. I would celebrate their victories. If they built a new building I would write them a note celebrating their success and ask if all the pastors could come and pray for them. I played a part in starting a pastors prayer group and this opened the door for pastors to begin sharing pulpits and yearly city wide prayer events. If I drove by a church I would stop in and introduce myself to the pastor and find out what his needs were and if there was anything I could do to support him. It was never about me, their victories became mine and their successes was one more battle won by the city church to transform our community.
You and I must arise to a place of finding what area of strength God has given us. Everyone can’t be the biggest and the most well known, but God has given each of us a place within the body where we can thrive and flourish. We can arise beyond the place of competing with one another and attain a calling of celebrating others and seeing how their success helps us. When we stop feeling intimidated by others success God can show us where we fit and how we can achieve our own successes. It may not be the way we expected, but it will always be the most rewarding because it will align with how God created us. The church is moving into its greatest season ever and this may sound impossible to believe, but there will be no stars. Only Jesus will be the star of his church. There is still time for God to deliver us from our selfish ambitions only then will we really begin to arise!