“I think I know what ‘If you build it, he will come’ means, Ray Kinsella told his wife. “I think it means that if I build a baseball field out there that Shoeless Joe Jackson will get to come back and play ball again.”
So, he built it…and he came. Shoeless Joe Jackson, that is, and the old White Sox team.
Maybe that concept works for old White Sox – if you set up a baseball field in a cornfield, they’ll show up, but does that concept work for a church plant? Just because a church is built (or planted, in our case), will they come?
My first answer, “Well, I sure hope they will!”
My answer on a day that I’ve allowed doubt to creep in, “They have no real reason to come.”
My answer in light of the fact that I believe God has called and equipped me to do this work, “Of course they’ll come. Not because of me, though. Because if He wants me to do this, it can’t fail.”
I met with another local pastor yesterday which was a great time of gleaning wisdom from him. He planted a church here in Clarksville just 3 years ago (Exit One Church) and I asked him to share any nuggets of wisdom that he had for me. He had lots of great things to say, but 2 things stood out to me the most:
1) Psalm 127:1 – Unless the Lord builds the house, its workers labor in vain… (which kind of blows the Field of Dreams theory out of the water)
2) He told me to enjoy the time I have right now, because it’s scary and nerve-wracking and everything that we do MUST be done from faith – there’s no other option. We have no income, no “official” congregation – nothing to rely on besides God. Once the tithes start coming in and ministry starts flowing, it’s much easier to begin trusting in those things to keep us going.
I am happy to report that I’m not good at building a church. I really have no idea what I’m doing here. I love to teach. I love to reach out to people. I love going to church. That’s about it though. Thank God that He has surrounded me with people and resources that I couldn’t have done this without. I had no idea when I started up a youth group when I was 16 and began trying to teach the Bible that it was all in training for future ministry. For years, I was going to seminary. Not formal seminary – God’s seminary – where He was training me through hard times, rough experiences, and other men & women of faith what ministry was all about and how to do it.
Tonight, the Awaken Church building will begin to take shape – it’s work night. A good friend of mine who has been coming to our Wednesday night Bible studies, Jason, went in last night and began pulling all of the electrical boxes off the wall that were used for powering the tanning beds that used to be in the building. Tonight, we paint, clean, polish, vacuum, build, cut, assemble, and whatever else needs to be done in there. I’m surrounded by this amazingly diverse group of people that’s excited to help out and pitch in any way that’s needed. Right now, God is pressing on my heart again that it’s not about the Field of Dreams theory. Just because we build a church (or renovate a tanning salon) doesn’t mean they’ll come. God must do it.
J. Oswald Sanders, in his book Spiritual Leadership said, “God delights to lead people, and then, in response to their trust, to show them power that matches every impossible situation.” He goes on to speak of Hudson Taylor’s trust in the Lord: “He counted three phases in most great tasks undertaken for God – impossible, difficult, done.”
I can honestly say that we are currently watching God build Awaken Church. The plans I had when we came to Clarksville have changed and we’ve seen God form new, far better plans. We’ve seen as need after need after need has been met and it seems that each time I answer the phone or turn around, another need has been met. As we’ve sat back and rested in God’s sovereignty, it’s been absolutely incredible to see God continue to do His thing. Since God is building it, we know our labor is not in vain.
So, instead of “If you build it, they will come,” here’s the theory we’re going to use: “Since God is building it, they WILL come.”