Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Flame of 35...

The vision of our church plant and others across America is to reach the lost and to bring strayed Christians’ focus back toward God. I have seen what Isaiah 10:17 speaks of, “The Lord, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy …” I have seen the great rewards of watching families grow stronger in the Lord. I have seen marriages being rebuilt, non-believers being baptized for the first time and seeing how their changed life brought their family and extended relatives to know Christ and be on-fire for Him. I have seen “the Holy One be a flame” that has run rampant through the lives of a new generation of believers. It has devoured “the thorns and briers with fire” and caused the enemies of darkness to come into light.

Being a part of the foundation of a church plant has been like tending to a flame. It requires much patience, attention to detail, diligence and wisdom to know that the stronger the flame the more perseverance it takes to keep it going in the right direction.

I have seen how attention to detail at our Grand Opening in 2009 created an atmosphere of friendliness, great worship and a passion for Christ and our salvation. Gathering donations of tickets to baseball games, movies, Starbuck’s gift cards, candy, etc. to provide for visiting children and parents, was a great way we gave back to our community.

On the other hand, our first day with the children’s ministry allowed us to see that we weren’t quite equipped or prepared to go from zero to sixty in the few minutes before our first service began. However, we quickly gained an understanding as to the types of changes that needed to be executed. Two and a half years later, our children’s ministry is thriving and a wonderful, fun, and safe place for our children to be.

It has been amazing to see where God has brought us from to where we are now. Our leadership team has changed a few times in the past couple of years; however, the direction in which our “flame” was being blown has always been the establish a hospital for the spiritually sick and to reach lost souls for Christ. Even though there have been disappointments and discouragements along the way, I know we have been successful because we have “obey[ed] the commands of the Lord [our] God and walk[ed] in His ways, [and] the Lord [has] establish[ed][us] as His holy people as He swore he would do.” (Deuteronomy 8:6)

Setting priorities and accomplishing goals has allowed us to grow as a church body, but striving not to lose our character for the sake of a goal has been challenging. I have learned that it is important to have volunteers in a church who are knowledgeable in finances, law, government, business, etc...but more importantly to have people serving who display integrity and character above reproach. A person whose heart is intertwined with God’s and is without knowledge or skill, is better than someone who is very skilled in all of those areas, but lacks in their daily walk with the Lord.

Finally, making sure that all members of ministry teams are being consistently encouraged and supported is essential to ensure that the “fire you are tending to” doesn’t die out. It is important to remember that the coals constantly need stirring up while still seeking out and fanning the new sparks within the church who are ready to ignite and shine brightly for God.

The flame that God has begun in Thrive Church is one that will reap eternal rewards. Watching the fire grow bigger and stronger has humbled me and I feel honored for being asked to be part of this journey. I pray that whatever journey God has placed in your heart that you would allow Him to stir it up to a blazing flame that would burn gloriously.

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