Over the past week, my family and I have enjoyed getting to be a part of several meetings which I was invited to speak at. The unique aspect was that I'd previously served in both ministries- as a staff pastor at North Valley Baptist Church in Phoenix, AZ and as an intern at Chihootso Baptist Church on the Navajo Reservation in St. Michael's, AZ. Returning to a church you've previously labored with others for the Gospel can be so encouraging! It reminded me of 1 Cor. 3 where Paul speaks of planting, watering, and tending to God's work. While Paul is clear that God gives the increase, He allows us to be a part of the process.
So a few thoughts stuck out to me this past week about being part of the process.
#1 It is awesome being a part of the family of God. We reconnected with people in these churches, some of whom I'd not seen for 15+ years. So much time was spent in fellowship and sharing what God was doing in our lives. This bond transcends time, location, and the current circumstances of life. It was a treat to see people faithfully growing in Christ and serving in His church after many years.
#2 It is exciting to see growth. As fantastic as it was to see people we knew and loved, it was equally as exciting to meet new people who had either recently been saved or joined the church. They didn't know my family and we didn't know them yet there was a common bond in the Gospel and through Christ's Church. Both congregations were not where they were even just a year ago, they'd grown! Sometimes that is hard to see when you are "in the bubble"; as an "outsider", it was apparent immediately.
#3 It is exciting to see new opportunities that have come to pass over time. We met people who were members of a new church planted by the church I'd served on staff at. There was also an opportunity to help another soon-to-launch church plant out that was connected to NVBC. An exciting door had opened on the campus of a local community college for engagement, interaction, and outreach; we spent some time on campus speaking with college students as they allowed.
My big takeaway and encouragement for us is- be a part of what God wants to do through our church over time. Some fruit won't be realized for a decade or beyond! Will you be someone who denies self, exercises maturity and deference with your liberty, and intentionally investsin Faith Baptist?
Along the way, there will be temptations to become upset over a matter of preference or personal conscience. There will be disagreements to be defused by both parties focusing upon what is biblically explicit and important. There will be people we love who leave- some in a good manner to utilize their gifts in another ministry, others that succumb to temptations and break fellowship. The point is, Satan loves to rob us of the joy of "fruit over time".
An encouraging truth to remember, due to the victory of Christ, we don't have to let him.