The following blog post is authored by Tim Doering, Lead Pastor:
– How do I know what to do next?
– Is this idea just my desire or is it God’s leading?
– I don’t want to lag behind God’s calling for me, but I also don’t want to run out in front of his will and step out of His hand of blessing.
– How do I know God’s voice? I wish He would just write it on the wall.
These questions and many others like them are topics of conversation that often find their way to pastors. And any pastor of value will be delighted when those questions authentically arise, because that means that someone is searching for God’s will.
Somewhere deep inside, most of us have a belief that God has a plan and that if we walk in it, things will be best for us. In general that’s what the scriptures teach as well, assuming that we leave the idea of what is “best for us” in His hands. That’s why, in his message in early December, Pastor Dave said, “There’s no greater place to be than in the center of God’s will.”
But discovering that will and direction is not always easy. Those previously mentioned questions can sometimes plague us! We try to see into the future and break down every scenario in order to know how God is leading. There is a complicated list of reasons why that doesn’t always work out for us, not the least of which is our own blindness and divided desires. But sometimes it’s really just that we need discernment in all of the voices or factors that we are balancing.
At times the best way to move forward is not by looking at our circumstances or trying to have vision for the future. Sometimes we see most clearly by looking back. God’s work in our lives often has patterns to it that can be discovered with some reflection and wisdom. We never want to try to limit God to the previous patterns. But when seeking to understand his current work in our lives, those patterns can be extremely helpful.
This is true, not only for individuals, but also families, nations, and churches! Over the summer I put out a blog post going after the topic of “Where are we headed?” That sounds a bit like those personal questions that we just listed doesn’t it? In light of this idea of looking back to find direction moving forward, I’d like to shed a little perspective on the list of “basic words” of vision and direction that were listed in that post:
For years God has done this interesting thing with PFC. He seems to take great delight in calling us to things that are beyond our current vision, means and ability…Really! Typically he calls us to these things for the sake of those who are not yet attending PFC.
A number of years ago God clearly led one of our members to donate the land on which our current building now resides. By all human wisdom there was absolutely no good reason to build a building on it. The church was not in a numeric upswing at the time. While the internal community was strong and the church was teaching the word, no strong evangelistic outreach had emerged and the average age of the congregation was rising. Consultants were brought in who clearly recommended against building. However a number of people felt very strongly that the Lord was leading the church to build. Ultimately the congregation voted to move forward with the project. Through many twists and turns the building was built with no shortage of God stories along the way.
Eventually the congregation made the transition into the new building. But shortly thereafter the pastoral team and other leaders thought that it was time to bring in some younger leaders to connect with a younger generation. Simultaneously pastor Josh and I were in planning to both move back to the area and plant a church together. Through a series of events, we began to feel a leading to connect with PFC instead, and to walk with the church through a “re-planting.” Now this church, that was initially planning to hire one pastor, (the first full-time pastor in the church’s entire history), was staring at bringing on two pastors. Josh and I raised support for the first year. By the end of that first year, the mortgage was completely paid off and Josh and I were fully supported by the church.
There are more stories, but no more space in the blog. So, I’ll leave it there for now. But clearly, the pattern has been that He calls us beyond our current capacity and vision. So, now, about where we are being called: I have a number of ideas about what the specifics may be, and I touched on some of them in that previously mentioned blog post. But those are details all yet to be clarified and worked out by God. The big point is that whatever He calls us to is likely to be bigger than what we would think wise. It is also likely to be not just for our church, but for neighboring churches; not just for East Coventry, but for the borough of Pottstown; not just for those of us who already know the Lord and are attending PFC, but for those yet to discover and connect; not just for our good, but for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
And I’m sure that at some point we will have to stare down a significant call to faith and ask ourselves yet again: Are we going to get stuck, or are we going to continue to step out to pursue what He has for us? It might be scary, but I for one wouldn’t have it any other way. One of my favorite things is to watch (sometimes through fingers that are covering my eyes, and with baited breath) how God works out the plan that he calls us to, but that only He can fulfill.
That’s when we see that this is His church and not ours. That’s when we join the stories of scripture and the saints of old in watching God invade the world of humanity, putting on a display that He is alive, sovereign and rescuing His children. And of course, as noted in that previous post, this is our call. We are a people following Christ with a primary purpose of being His image bearers.