At the age of 8 I told my Sunday school teacher (who happened to be my grandmother) that I wanted to be a preacher when I grew up. I would actually walk around my house with a large dictionary acting like I was preaching like Martin Luther King Jr. This was my boyhood dream but I had no idea how it would become my reality.
This past Sunday I watched about 175 people fill into a room to worship God. Many came to support me on my first Sunday and I was overwhelmed by the support. I loved watching the diversity of the people (yes!), the new relationships, and the sincere worship.
This morning I was reading through the Psalms and came across a verse that described my journey.
Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him.
It took more than 20 years to see a boyhood dream become a current reality. During this time I was definitely tested and my character was formed. There have been many seasons of hardship, doubts, and discouragement. I have learned perseverance. Now I find myself learning how to accept the season where the word has finally come to pass. I know that every church plant doesn’t begin with the overwhelming support I’ve received from dear friends. I am thankful for everyone’s prayers, donations, and encouragement.
I keep asking “Why Me?”. Why am I benefiting from the prayers and labor of those who have gone before me? The response that comes to mind is a quote by Arthur Ashe after he faced his greatest hardship. The question is flipped for me in this season but the same principle applies. I rarely asked “Why Me?” in all the hardships. I grew to expect obstacles. So why should I ask that question now?
“If I were to say, “God, why me?” about the bad things,
then I should have said, “God, why me?”
about the good things that happened in my life.”
Five years of decision compressed into twelve months. This is how I describe the engagement season before marriage. The engagement season is full of excitement and anticipation. Mixed in with that is also a vast amount of decisions about the wedding day. Such as:
Where to get married? Who to invite? What to eat? What to wear? What goes on the registry? What music? What can we afford?
If a couple can learn how to make those decisions, stay compassionate, and put each others needs before their own, then they have allowed the engagement season to prepare them for marriage.
The process of planting a church reminds me of the engagement season. I’m looking forward to many years of ministry and many Sundays pastoring. Mixed into this excitement has been a billion decisions to make in only a few months. Decisions are an inevitable part of this season and an expected part of leadership. Leaders make decisions–many of them.
In one week the day we’ve been preparing for will arrive. I want to approach this day just like I approached my wedding day with my wife Stefanie. We invited friends and family to pray for us each day of the week. The prayers were focused on our wedding day and our marriage. We saw all of those prayers answered on our wedding day and we’re living them out in our marriage now. So would you join Gallery Church Sowebo in praying for us this week? Here is how you can pray:
Sunday: Pray that our primary goal would always be to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Luke 10:27
Monday: Pray that we would become a church family that loves each other deeply. 1 Peter 4:8
Tuesday: Pray that in all things we would walk in obedience to see God’s good and perfect will done here on earth. Matthew 6:10
Wednesday: Pray that we would never lose sight of the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19
Thursday: Pray for the people of Sowebo to place their faith in Jesus as Lord. Romans 10:17
Friday: Pray that we would mature in our dependence on God’s Spirit. John 16:13
Saturday: Pray for revival. John 10:10
As a young boy I would always look out the window whenever someone moved into the neighborhood. My neighborhood was a bit different in that we didn’t welcome people into the neighborhood with cookies. Our neighborhood welcomed people by inviting them into our way of life. It was certain that the ill effects of my neighborhood would quickly introduce itself to each family that moved in. I knew that whoever offered the first invitation would more than likely have the greatest influence on the family. And I, along with my siblings, wanted to be the ones to extend the first invitation to the children of each family.
I can remember one particular family that we befriended when they arrived. The boys in the family weren’t tough–at all. However, as we grew older they wanted to fit in and be tough like everyone else. I know at least one of them didn’t live to see his twenties.
The same mentality I had as a little boy staring out the window is the same mentality I need as man ministering to the city; because the same tension still exists in our communities. Evil is actively looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and we should be actively looking for someone to disciple.
The challenge is that it’s much easier to invite people into our church building than it is to invite them into our lives. But the church body is made up of many brothers and sisters who find life in Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 5:1-2). So we should be looking out of our windows to find people that we can invite into this Life.