Summary: John said, "He must increase, I must decrease." If the church would discover that lesson and live by it, there’s no limit to where God can take his church.
God Gives the Increase
Sunday, June 01, 2008 – AM
By Pastor Jim May
Since 1999, when Victory Temple was first formed as a church, God began to let me have dreams and visions of the church that seemed so impossible to me at that time. In those days we were still in that little store front rental building on Highway 44, struggling to make ends meet, and praying for God to help the church to grow.
In those dreams I saw the church in a building, but it wasn’t the building we were using then. It was a larger building with a bigger auditorium and space for classes that just didn’t exist in that little place. In those visions I could see a crowd of people, but there were very few faces that I could recognize, and I wondered why I didn’t know anyone.
As time went on, the congregation would increase, and just as quickly as it would grow, people would leave and we would be right back where we began. All during this time, the devil was constantly on my shoulder screaming into my ear that it was all my fault, my failures to plan, my inability to dream bigger and my lack of knowledge and understanding that was the reason for the church not growing. And I must say that everything he was accusing me of was true. I never was a big dreamer and I still have great limitations even today.
Some people can begin with a big dream, a big vision, and they can somehow claim to be a man of faith and then go after those dreams with gusto, but I’ve never been like that. I’m more of a Realist, and quite often I see the dark clouds and miss the silver linings.
So I cannot contribute the growth of the church to anything that I have done other than two things, and even those things aren’t anything special.
One is that, like most of you, I determined to remain faithful in serving God in the place where he has called me. Secondly, I determined to not allow the devil to force me into quitting, though there were a number of times that I wondered if that would not have been the best thing to do.
One thing that kept ringing in my ears were the words of the first pastor of Victory Temple, Bro. Pack, who said, “Bro. May, it nearly always takes at least 5 years before a new church will begin to grow. People have to know that you are established and that you won’t quit on them, then the Holy Ghost will begin to lead them to you.” I can say that those words have a lot of truth in them, although the time frame isn’t set in stone.
In the dreams and visions of those days, I saw the church and the people in it, and by-in-large, this church matches the dreams and visions of those days. I have no doubt that God brought us here. He gave us this place of worship and it is the Holy Spirit that is leading people to us.
Several years ago, I asked another pastor in the area whose church has grown much in the past several years, “What did you do to get people to come.” His answer caught me off guard. I was expecting him to say, “Well, we witnessed on the street corners, and preached in every place that we could. We canvassed the neighborhoods and sent out mailings across the parish. We spent a lot of time in the homes of prospective members. We fed the hungry, bussed in underprivileged kids and did everything humanly possible. We taught the 40 days of Purpose, and created all sorts of different ministries.” Instead, he simply said, “I didn’t do anything but be faithful. God built the church through people talking to people and getting excited about their church.”
That just seemed too simple. People got excited about God and their church and kept bringing other people with them. WOW! WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT! PEOPLE EXCITED ABOUT SERVING THE LORD!
I had read the books written by so many preachers on how to build a big church. It was all so overwhelming, and on top of that, many of the things that they said were necessary for the church to grow, I could not agree with. I resolved that I would not follow the teachings of men just to get the numbers. I believe that as long as I am called to be the pastor, that we were going to be different from the mainstream church of today.
Let me tell you of the kind of church that God gave me the vision for then and still wants us to have today.