Seven Mile Road is three weeks into weekly corporate worship. So far, we’ve been a bit spoiled. Everything we’ve touched has turned to gold. We need a website – we get a killer one for free. We need a space – we get to use a building sitting on six acres of land. We throw a barbeque – 115 people show up. We launch our first service – we put out seventy chairs but need more to accommodate everyone.

So then, it was a shock to my system when we showed up for service in week two and there were only 33 people there. Now I know in my head that numbers don’t matter. I know that we had a bunch of well-wishers from out of town for the first service. But my head didn’t relay those facts to my heart. You could feel the absence of fifty people in one week! I was hoping I was the only one who noticed. Wrong. Folks on the team thought to themselves, “where is everyone?” Regular visitors came into the room and looked at their watch to make sure that they weren’t there early because they didn’t see people. People noticed.

This past week we had about 40 people. But for two weeks now, numbers have been on my mind. I so badly want to be above all that and see how silly the whole thing is. And honestly, as I’ve searched my heart, I’m not looking for us to have five hundred people so we can make a name for ourselves. But the thoughts that have plagued me include: What if we don’t grow? If people don’t come – what if we fail? Is the team discouraged? Have we lost momentum?

Pause. Selah. Sanity.

Here are the truths God has been speaking to my soul through His Word and His people.

This is a grace from God. A friend challenged me to see this jolt, this shot in the arm, as a gift from God. In His grace, God humbles us so that we might learn not to trust in ourselves but to trust in Him (2 Corinthians 1:9). Church planting is not easy. Church planting “works” only by God and His power. Jesus makes His church grow. These weeks have been a good reminder of that.

Commit yourself again to mission. These first two weeks have already scared me about what happens if we turn from a church that is about mission to a church that is about maintenance. If Seven Mile Road becomes about a service on Sunday, we’re done. We’re dead before we know it. So may God renew us in our commitment to be missionaries to Philadelphia. How many people have I met in Philadelphia this week? Have I sat down with the local principals as the new school year has started? Have I talked to the people at Starbucks? How am I representing Jesus in my city today? These are questions I’m once again having to answer.

Commit yourself again to making disciples. Rather than working on building/growing a church, we need to focus on  making and maturing disciples of Jesus. If we can make disciples of those God has gathered together, they will multiply the disciples.

You’re just like Israel. I’ve been reading 1 Samuel in my devotions. I was stunned today by Israel’s faithlessness. God routs the Philistines for Israel through no effort of their own. He provides them a godly leader in Samuel. And how do they respond? They lose heart and plead for a king so they can be ’secure’ like other nations. They want someone to “lead them in battle.” What! How could they have forgotten that the Lord did this very thing just moments ago? And then it hits me. Looking at Israel is like looking in the mirror. I forget so quickly all the Lord has done. And I trade security in Him for a sense of security found in the number of people who show up on Sunday. Forgive me Lord for looking just like Israel.

People came! Have I really been complaining that thirty and forty people showed up to our service? Thirty and forty people came to our service! One man came cause he found our church on the web and he’s come back twice.  One of the guys at church was telling me how encouraged he has been that there have been new people at every service. He finds himself repeatedly introducing himself to people. How awesome is that.

The service has been great. We gather weekly to worship God, to believe the Gospel, to confess sin, to experience forgiveness, to take the sacrament, to preach the Word, to sing to Jesus, to fellowship with the saints. The hour and half we spend on Sundays together have been wonderful. I find myself singing the songs from Sunday throughout the week. People are having good conversations about the texts we’re preaching through. Weekly we’re brought back to Jesus and His Cross. We have a weekly service to invite friends to attend. All very, very, good.

7 Mile Road Church