There is a concept about the kingdom that God has....that we don't like. As a matter of fact, we cringe at the thought of it. I speak of pruning. Congregations so don't like this "church growth truth" that it will fight the concept to keep it from happening. Unblessed church growth (refusing His pruning action) causes congregations to stagnate and wither; not live in vibrancy.
Pruning for healthy growth is a God-given system which works not only in nature; but in the church.
As I ponder the wonderful years at Memorial (whether happy or challenging), I can note key moves made by our leadership which spurred growth both numerically and spiritually. The brave move of adding Allen French to the staff as Worship Leader coupled with bringing Linda Scott on board to shore up the Children's Ministry were two fabulous blessings.
But something took place years before that which didn't look good....at first. Yet, as God IS faithful, productivity eventually followed. I speak of a sudden move of repentance (meaning change of direction) which our elders made with decisive boldness. You will want to write this down. They quit chasing after those upset with our church experience; those who were making constant vocal threats of leaving.
The elders blessed them to leave for they are very good people....and each team of elders since has followed this pruning path. The displeased aren't sure how to read this for it feels to them they aren't important. This isn't the case. Our leaders feel God's call (of these members to leave) is more important than rushing to keep any who are terribly burdened. That very burden may be God moving them to a place He has readied just for their specific gifts.
I didn't see this one coming. I would never have guessed it possible. Instead of the elders conducting meeting after meeting listening to one offense and complaint after another, they believed with all their hearts that God was calling these good people away and our elders were not about to interfere with His calling. Actually, some of them were elders. It wasn't a matter of irritation, etc. It was an issue that if these felt that called to leave, our men would not interfere.
Now I can see key people being added to our work at Memorial that most likely would not have stayed around had those so unhappy remained. And our elders were very accurate as those who left have been tapped by God to bless their new congregations. Another win-win move of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, when those you love move on whether transferred to another state or irritated and move across town, praise God for His wisdom of pruning. It isn't an easy process. I can be so painful we would prefer to control matters to keep what we have. Yet, God always has more in mind. More comes from pruning; not hoarding.
May we not grump around with hard feelings; but may we open up to the vision of God. May we awaken to this church growth trait. Our cause isn't to divide into the White Hats and the Black Hats to do combat. We are His body called to trust His distribution of spiritual gifts in the places He wills.
Bless you as you are repeatedly hurt by the pruning process. Bless God by your praises in such uncomfortable situations for He surely is grooming and strenghtening His glorious body...the church.