Never again! This has got to stop! I will never pastor a church with anxiety! A decision that changed my life.
I will never forget going home and weeping over Sunday mornings where we went backwards in our church growth. I had almost lost the victory and it was hard to preach to the people who were there because all I could think about is the people who were not there. I developed stomach ulcers and took every down week in church attendance personally. Until one day, God spoke to me.
CHURCH GROWTH MUST SOMETIMES GO BACKWARDS BEFORE IT CAN GO FORWARDS.
Many pastors feel that they are in the worst season of their lives when the church is not growing. In my case, and in the case of so many others, it was exactly what was needed in order to discover a cause that was greater than my dream. God wanted those people to be scattered to churches that best fit their liking so that he could raise up a generation who wanted to go in the same direction. God also wanted to deal with the issue of anxiety of the leader. He wanted to make me understand that He was always good even in this hard time.
When I first came to Freedom, I let the church empty itself starting with a couple dozen and then a few more and then a few more still. Then, I took a long walk around my city and let God birthed the idea of the His dream. It was a dream that had to be born out of reverse church growth. The reality was going back was really a slingshot preparing to be launched forward.
GOD OFTEN EMPTIES SOMETHING BEFORE HE REBUILDS IT.
The most liberating thing I ever did was rip up my goal sheet of where I wanted to be in five years and learning to love and trust God, seek the purity of motivation in ministry, and get back to making a commitment to God to do the next thing He wanted me to do.
I started to love the people in the building and not view them as a number to get me to my goal. We started to rally with those who remained. We had to put a new dream of God’s church being in operation and not this guy's church. Finally, my anxiety was gone, my expectations in the natural were gone and I began to open my eyes to the church God wanted me to build and not what I wanted. Suddenly, I realized that there was a major work to do and no longer would I judge God’s goodness on week-by-week progress.
Maybe you are reading this and something in your life seems to be going in the opposite direction. I have learned that things could be entering into their best growth period while things are going backwards. The way down is often the way up! Don’t you let yourself be discouraged when you are in the valley. Because the lessons you learn in the valley are the ones that are going to contribute to you celebrating on the mountaintop!