Will we Succeed in England?

heart-of-love-1328441023DAUSo Catherine and I are moving to England to plant a church.  It’s a long way to go and it’s a big step to take.  Obviously.  I was talking to the Lord the other day and I was letting Him know that I will certainly go and be obedient to His calling, but I really hope that it succeeds.  I asked God over and over, “will this succeed?”

Part of the question I was asking is to do with church size.  Back in the 1950’s when the church in the West began to decline, some scholars started to make the case that church growth matters.  Most of them were former missionaries.  Their writings became the Church Growth Movement, and their influence has been profound.  C. Peter Wagner is the best known of them.  The result is that among the Pentecostal circles that I move in it matters greatly that a church is growing, and by growing I mean attendances are increasing.  To be the pastor of a church that is not increasing in number is a professional problem.  Rick Warren says healthy things grow, so if a church is not growing then it has a health problem.  And the pastor is the number one person who is to fix the problem.  Because in evangelical circles (and especially Pentecostal ones) these days non-growth is thought to be a problem.

Broadly, I agree with that.  Does God care how big a church is?  Yes, but he cares about plenty else as well.  In short God has commanded us to be fruitful.  Some aspects of fruitfulness can be measured.  He commands us to baptise people in his name.  Baptisms can be counted.  In Acts there are a number of occasions where Luke gives us brief numerical updates on church growth.

But if we do mighty works in his name that does not necessarily mean that we have succeeded.  Paul says,

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  (1 Cor 13:2-3)

If we do mighty works in love then we will receive a great reward.

Our pastor, Matthew Wyatt preached from that passage just a few days after I was talking to God about this.  God gave me an answer to my question.  The passage goes on to say, “Love never fails”.  As Matthew preached he said, “If we operate in love then we cannot fail.”  He then paused, pointed at Catherine and I and said, “That’s a guarantee for you two.”

I was stunned.  God, you are so good.  What a brilliant prophetic word.  What a superb example of prophecy operating to encourage people, just like it is supposed to.  When I talked about it to Catherine later she was, “yeah, I didn’t really think anything about that.”  I then filled her in on what I had been thinking and how it struck me between the eyes.

So we are going to England to be fruitful.  The more who find faith, get baptised and get discipled the better.  God cares that we are fruitful.  But the most important thing is love.  God cares the most about leaders ministering in love.  If we minister in love then we will succeed.  We have detailed plans about being fruitful, but plan number 1 is to love the people we meet.  Love is the plan, and success – success in Gods eyes – will follow.

John

4 Comments to “Will we Succeed in England?”

  1. will be praying for you guys!

  2. Hi John I was thinking about 1 Tim:5-6. If we are not producing love or acting out of love it is all just idle talk or fruitless discussion. This is a good way to measure our effectiveness as believers.

  3. We also know that being faithful can mean people turning away! Even for Jesus, “Jesus’ speech made many of his disciples go back to the lives they had led before they followed Jesus” (John 6:66 GW, context 61-69). Are you sent to sow seeds (see little harvest yourself) or to harvest (reap the seeds others have planted)? Whatever, love Jesus, love people, love yourselves. And don’t give up! Spiritual success comes with Jesus saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, and I do not say that lightly, for I have gone through great pain and sorrow, yet those words help me hold on.

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