"Like great coffee, great churches are slow brewed." - Matt Keller in The Up The Middle Church
My "growing up" years in ministry training were in what I will fondly call "the church growth era." I went to conferences and heard great speakers, read books, and followed great churches, all of which told me that if I plugged in their formula, my church would experience explosive growth. I have to tell you that I tried all of that. I was privileged to pastor some great churches, but I never once experienced that big blow out that was promised. I worked the programs, trust me! I stressed, put in the long hours, and busied myself with the task of growing a great church. I was a ministry-aholic who put my work above everything, including my family. And I was miserable, but I didn't want to confess that to a single soul.
I've learned in recent years that my job isn't to grow a great church. That was a hard pill to swallow. This revelation was contrary to everything I had been taught about church growth. But I've come to the conclusion that it's not my job to build a great church. It's Jesus' job - He said "I will build my church..." (Matthew 16:18). He promised to build a prevailing church; a church that would stand against the forces of hell itself!
So what's my job? I'm supposed to build people - people Jesus will use to build His church! It's a slow process. Oh, some individuals "build" faster than others, but over alll, it's a lengthy process. I wish I had embraced this concept years ago. I wouldn't have been frustrated about ministry for all those years. I'm not saying I don't get frustrated now. But I'm learning to walk with people in the three-steps-forward-two-steps-back faith journey. I'm learning to be content with that. It's not always easy, and there are times I still want things to happen sooner rather than later. But just as I've learned to enjoy a good cup of slow-brewed coffee (thanks, Sarah!), I am learning to enjoy seeing God work out His will in an individual's life. And I'm learning to enjoy that process in the life of the church.
That's where I'm at. How about you? How's your coffee?