"7 Life Lessons Learned From Closing A Church"
I know this is an unusual title. I can see someone writing about spiritual lessons learned from planting a successful, thriving Church or steps on how to grow your existing Church but spiritual lessons from closing a Church?
When you think of someone closing a Church it smells of defeat, failure and automatically raises the question, "What happened?" And people being people, usually fill in the blanks of what they "think" happened without any facts, knowledge or evidence to support their hunches. That's just the way we are myself included.
On September 17th, 2017 my wife Kacie and I launched a Church called CityReach Church St. Louis in downtown St. Louis. On May 20th, 2018 we decided to shut the doors of the Church. I know already you want to know what happened and explaining what happened is not my intent for writing this blog.
My intent is to share the 7 spiritual lessons I learned from that experience; to help someone struggling with coming to grips with what looks like failure in ministry or life.
Lesson #1 - God's Word is ALWAYS true and He looks after His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).
My wife and I both KNOW that God gave us (Matthew 16:18) to stand on before, during and after we planted our Church. It's God's job to build the Church and the gates of hell WILL NOT prevail against it. How that looks is up to God. If God gave you a promise KNOW that He'll fulfill it.
Lesson #2 - God's calling and gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
The temptation is to think Pastoring occurs only in a building. God's calling and gifts are for the marketplace, the gym, the grocery store, the bank or wherever. The enemy will tempt you to doubt your calling. KNOW that God called you, not man or circumstances.
Lesson #3 - Trust God's timing (Ecclesiastes 3:2).
God is sovereign and controls the seasons in our lives. He brings us through a very hard season that looks like failure, to prepare us for the next season of elevation (1 Peter 5:10).
KNOW and trust that God knows what He is doing even when we can't understand what He's doing.
Lesson #4 - Trust God's sovereignty; He knows what He's doing (Isaiah 46:10).
Lesson #5 - Allow Holy Spirit to create a teachable spirit within you (John 14:26).
God is always speaking. When what looks like failure occurs ask Holy Spirit to teach us the spiritual lesson embedded in the trial. Every trial is designed to grow us (James 1:2-4).
Sometimes the why questions lead us into self pity which is counterproductive to learning.
Lesson #6 - Avoid the traps of bitterness, rejection, blame and shame (Hebrews 12:15).
One of our first reactions to what looks like failure is shame. We think everyone is pointing a finger at us. We then start comparing ourselves to someone we think is successful. That's when the enemy tries to throw darts of self-rejection and doubt at us. When we doubt the gifts and calling that God blessed us with we are actually doubting Him. And whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
Another trap to avoid when going through a season of what seems like failure is the blame game. The blame game imprisons us in bitterness and a victim mentality. Instead of viewing ourselves as "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37) we see ourselves as grasshoppers in a land of giants (Numbers 13:33).
Lesson #7 - God favors us above and beyond circumstances (Psalm 5:12).
God's love and favor towards us is as irrevocable as His gifts and callings are. We don't earn them by performing or succeeding by the world's standards. So when what looks like failure is staring us in the face look back at it and remind yourself of God's love and shield of favor surrounding us. His set time of favor is upon us (Psalm 102:13).
The Sunday we closed the Church was one of the saddest in my life as I saw the tears in the eyes of our small congregation. I tried and failed to hold back my tears. But as I write this blog I know God has GREATER for Pastor Kacie and I. And GREATER for you as well!
To be continued...