Summary: A look backward at our church at failure, but a look forward to what our church can be with the first church in Acts 2 as a model
I have been pastoring this church, as either Resurrection Bible Church or as Victory Bible Church in its early form, since January 2, 2000. I have to say that it has been an interesting ride, with highs and lows and a lot of in between.
Those of us that pastor rural churches pretty much have a mixed bag of success and failure, more so I do believe that larger, urban or suburban churches. Location is a factor, as is a smaller population but in truth we as small churches have some unique advantages big churches lack:
We are small, but we are intimate in that we know everyone in the church.
We are small but are learning to lean on each other more and more.
We are small, but we are learning as a group.
We are small, but becoming more tightly knit as each week goes by.
Over the years, it seemed as though we were missing one vital element in our church for the most part: a sense of community, a kindred spirit. There was a time, from 2004 through 2007, when we did have that kindred spirit but slowly that evaporated; it has taken almost seven years to get back to that same kind of connected state in our church.
What I will attempt to do this week is to examine what happened during that time. We will look at the success, and we will look at the failures that happened during that time. I will not, however, address specifics in situations or in persons but try to teach you what I have learned from hindsight.
We will also, addition to seeing what worked and worked well will examine how we can regain that type of kindred spirit expand upon it so that God will use us--each one of us--in a mighty way in 2014 and the years that will follow in studying a key passage in Acts chapter 2, the founding of the church.
Let's begin as we seek to become kindred united!
* Do Not Allow Satan To Establish A Beachhead
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27 (KJV)
I thank the Lord for the sacrifices that my father and my father in law made in World War II. My dad was in the Pacific Theater (New Guinea and the Philippines) and Kay's dad was at Normandy and in other later locations in the European Theater. If you know history, you would know that Operation Overlord, also known as D-Day, was the establishing of a beachhead of operations to drive a wedge into German occupied France and the rest of occupied territory in Europe, doing so at the Normandy beaches. Had Operation Overlord failed, the war most certainly have lasted much longer at the least and may have resulted in Nazi victory at the worst.
On the flip side, history has shown us that enemies also use this strategy, that of establishing beachheads or footholds. This is precisely what Satan does in the lives of believers; he finds a weak spot and often by stealth and deception he establishes beachheads in our lives.
Don't we all wish that we had the ability to see what is ahead as clearly as those things that have passed by? The saying "hindsight is 20-20" is so true. One of our greatest learning tools is from the experience of failure. I can say that I am guilty of allowing these beachheads or footholds to become established in those years our church was thriving and only later discovered the error.
What happened was this: anger issues and issues of sins of "familiarity" were not addressed, and they accumulated to the point where it created a monster of sorts. Anger issues (with both myself and the other parties) were not really addressed, and we let them "slide" and they accumulated and festered and grew out of control. And the old saying "familiarity breeds contempt" rang true, as those that were close to me got away with some things that should have been addressed. In short, in order to "keep the peace" and "not make waves" things were left to slide by. The end result was, in some cases, catastrophic; one particular case resulted in anger so great I sincerely thought I was going to be assaulted. Now I see it, and see that I am as at fault, or more at fault, for not dealing with the issue.
Today's key scripture passage above states: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. See four concepts: 1) Anger happens, and is not always sinful;
2) Anger is never an excuse to sin (you made me so angry that I did that!)