Summary: In this stand alone message, Dave talks about the new journey of Wildwind and what "more" should mean to us.
What’s Your “More” For?
Wildwind Community Church
Here we are. Wow.
I changed my mind about John chapter 12. Really, it’s a great chapter, and since I didn’t change my mind until the sermon on it was already written, I can tell you next week’s sermon is a good one! However, there will only be one day like today. In what will seem like an instant, we’ll be walking out of here, and we’ll have our first service in our new home in the bag. So the question is what are we going to do with this time – what am I going to say to you in these few minutes I have?
I want to remind you this morning what Wildwind Church is all about. I want to assure you that, although we are changing in certain ways, there are certain things that have not changed and are not going to change.
But let’s start in the right place – let’s keep things in proper perspective. Churches are not about pastors and staff and administrators and policies. Churches are about people. When churches forget that, the people in the church can easily become casualties of the church’s ambition. A church might desire so much to grow that it actually forgets the main reason it is there, which is not programs and ministries, but human beings. Wildwind exists today not because of my vision, but because a small handful of other people had a similar vision, and embraced my vision, and we were able to do this together. I want to thank Dan and Judy for their unwavering support of Christy and I as a couple, of our aspirations for ministry, and of the people of Wildwind. I want to thank our core team, who made huge sacrifices, and kept making them year after year, to see our dream come to fruition. And I want to thank all of those who have come after that original group of 30, hopped on board, discovered what we call “the Wildwind way,” and made it their own. From that original group of 30, to 90 in the first year, to 120 by the following year, to 170 by the fifth year, back down to as little as 100 or so for a while as we met on Saturday evenings -- wait, I’m talking about attendance, aren’t I? Ministry isn’t about numbers, is it? It’s not about how many butts are in seats is it? Isn’t it about lives changing? Isn’t it about people learning to hear what God is saying to them? Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about what ministry really is, what this church business is really all about. See, I learned something from our time in the desert. For me, as a pastor, those weeks where our church was actually shrinking – those weeks where, after having experienced 170, 180 people in our church, we’d have less than 100 – those were downright depressing. Trust me, you don’t pastor a church that has been growing, then watch it stop growing and begin to shrink, and not experience that as a desert. It was a difficult time, my friends, no question about it. But I had to ask myself a lot of questions at that time. What is church really all about? What are we really trying to accomplish here? What do we want to see happen? I spent a lot of time thinking about that, even wondering if maybe I was the wrong person to be your pastor, wondering what I was doing wrong. And during one of the worst of those moments, I wrote these words in an email to your leadership team:
Hi team. Increasingly I am coming to believe that we must focus on the personal spiritual formation of our people, and leave the rest to God. It is God who works in us to will and to move according to his good pleasure. So we take it as our task to create conditions where God’s life can spring up in as many as possible.
To replace church-building with people-building. To place the personal spiritual formation of every person as paramount, and place less emphasis on our standards for membership, attendance, etc. To organize so as to see the God-life springing up in as many as possible. To eschew structures and organizational pitfalls, and organize for the work of disciple-making.
To help people understand that their workplace, their home, their porch, their neighbor’s yard, their couch, their bedroom, and their hearts are monasteries and convents – places to be set apart for the glory of God, for the moment by moment experiencing of his presence and grace.
I am convinced that all else is religious kingdom-building in the worst sense – McChurch franchising. At the end of time, God will not ask how many members we had, how many salvation prayers were said, or how large our attendance numbers were. God will be interested in whether or not people came into our ministry and found there a place to absorb and learn the practices of Kingdom life.