“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Prayer

I wanted to post briefly and request prayer from the folks who periodically visit this place.

As a small-church pastor, it is always difficult to lose families; this weekend we had a family announce that they are leaving our church to go to a nearby Mega-church.

I love these folks dearly, and their announcement out of the blue somewhat blindsided me. I must admit that I struggle with the reality that folks (not only this family) leave our church where they are involved, loved and needed, and go to a church numbering in the thousands. These are wonderful folks, and dear friends, and they will get plugged in at their new church, but, oh, how we could have used them here.

I love this congregation -- their heart and commitment always amazes me. I am privileged and honored to be the shepherd of such a wonderful group. And when things such as this recent event occur, I call into question my leadership, and skills. The gospel is preached at our church; we believe in, and practice discipleship; and have church discipline. We may not have all of Mark Dever's 9 Marks down, but we certainly are moving towards that. I believe that I have been called to preach at this church, and we have seen some wonderful moves of God sweep through the church. Yet, when folks move on with a vague "The Lord told me to", I wonder....

It is hard to argue with the subjective aspect of 'The Lord said so', I believe that this is why the reason is often used -- you can't disprove it, and should you even question the fact that this might actually be their own feelings driven to the surface, people look at you like you have blasphemed; so strong is the therapeutic, and feelings-driven gospel entrenched in the evangelical community! The Proverbs state that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, however, so often people will say nothing and just make a jump.

When I see people who are being used in a mighty way in the smaller, local church, leave for a church that has an abundance of people and material resources, I know how the local 5 & 10 feels when Wal*Mart comes to town. We, as a small church, cannot compete with ALL of the junk that a mega-church throws at people, and when you combine that with a message that really focuses on the felt-needs, you have a strong one-two punch. And quite frankly, what is so sad is that many of these larger churches are acrimonious to the smaller church, believing that it is 'stuck' in the past because it still preaches out of the Scriptures, and actually has church discipline etc. I have had one 'leader' in a Mega-Church actually laugh about the plight of smaller churches, saying that we had failed in our ministry because we have never grown above 100. I guess that would make most of the New Testament Church a failure?

Enough about that -- I will continue to preach the Gospel, and love this congregation, but these types of events rattle my cage. The good news is that we have brought in several families this year who are regulars. God is sovereign, and that is a great comfort to me!

Second -- today is my daughter's birthday. She would have been 26 today. I lost her when she was 18 months old, and while I always feel that I have healed -- this date hits me in the head every year. I do not sit around and mourn for days anymore, but it is still like a painful scar that hurts when bumped too hard.

So -- keep me in prayer, many thanks...

Ray

6 comments:

Steve Sensenig said...

Ray, my heart breaks in reading this. Genuinely. You absolute have my prayers. If there is ANYTHING I can do to help (even just listening, praying more specifically, etc.), please do not hesitate to email me and let me know. I'll give you my phone numbers, whatever. You are not alone, my dear brother, and my heart is hurting with you over both of these things you have mentioned.

In Christ,
steve

Ray said...

Thank you so much Steve, I may take you up on your offer, if for no other reason than to just talk...

God Bless you

Anonymous said...

I echo Steve.

You will be in my prayers much. Be encouraged and cast your cares on He who orders your steps.

Neil

Steve Sensenig said...

Please do, Ray. It would be great to talk with you, brother!

Ray said...

Thanks Neil -- I appreciate your prayers... It is a great time of year though -- a time when we are all reminded of God's great promise kept...

I truly appreciate all of my friends out there in the ether... One day i hope to meet all of you...

Ray

Steve Sensenig said...

The feeling is quite mutual, Ray.