I tried to tell John the Preacher not to give up. He said his elders didn't want to grow. Too, he said his church didn't want to change. I kept urging him not to quit. He did anyway. I remain sad for him and those with whom he worked. If he would have only held on, he probably would have been wowed by God.
But....I get his discouragement. I've lived there and assume you have or are....or will.
One of the wonderful blessings I have received over the years is that fact; years and years and years. I've learned that we tend to not give God enough time. Most likely it would be better said we don't give God enough time with us. We are too quick to immaturely abort.
I struggled for over a decade at Memorial with seeing anything change. From my chair the most I could see was irrational squabbling coupled with "permission giving/permission seeking" atmospheres. I lived very discouraged. I kept asking the elders why I could try crazy things away from Memorial and they seemed to work; but I couldn't get permission to try them here.
Oh, I did get to try a few things. I did get to launch my goal of 600 baptisms in six months which died after ten days. But most of my dreams didn't fly. The one I got to try failed. Not encouraging.
Last week I remembered those painful days. Those days were valuable in two ways: (1) they taught me to depend on God and, (2) they showed me my ideas of getting things going were not up to His standards. I needed to learn to not get my way.
What has happened to Memorial Drive surely has to be a grand combination of failures (mine and others) and we simply and finally looked to God to see if He might have anything in mind. At one point Memorial was so low in attendance and morale that I pondered recommending we disband. Please take in the agony of those weighty thoughts. Why did we exist as a congregation? I couldn't give a positive answer.
I reveal this side of my ministry only to give you hope in yours. Today, I'm wild about what God is doing with us. We aren't the best nor near the top in any measurement. I will gratefully say we are a very happy and productive people who swim in one amazing report to another and yet another of God-working hearsay among us to the extent none can keep up with the stories.
Where you live? Give up your organizational mapping and tactics. Pray. Ask Him to run His church. You might be delighted at what you experience when you surrender your brainy ideas. Don't try to figure how the church will grow. God has that puzzle completed.
Step back. Allow Him to step in. Stay out of the way.