The A29 network has a sick networking site where lead planters from across the country/planet can dialog with each other as they take their local hills for Jesus. I recently posted this confession/joy on the prayer requests thread and wanted to post it here as well.
Guys, a confession… I have definitely been recently doubting that God can, and intends to, redeem many in my just-north-of-Boston culture.
The huge majority of our growth/fruit in recent months has been folks who were predisposed to finding a church and pressing into the Gospel there. I do get that the work we are doing in their souls is legit, but they are folks who come ‘with a Bible’ and some kind of a Christian past/clue.
We have had a total dearth of ‘off-Causeway-Street’ conversions though. And most of the not-believers I have missionally marriage-prepped sat through the whole prep with the Gospel pinging off their hearts like seed off concrete… few are tracking with Jesus or our church at this point. No matter how I unpack Jesus and sin and the need for heart change and repentance and new birth, they just nod their heads like deers in headlights. We have zero folks lined up for baptism this year. Many people come, are welcomed warmly, love the people/music, even say how they love the preaching, but have zippo interest in the Gospel and then float away.
In addition to all of this causing me to prayerfully press into questions about our approach to mission, etc. it has also triggered frustration/unbelief in me. Thoughts like “these folks are way too far gone to ever function as members of Jesus’ church” and “I cannot overcome their godless childhood and lifetime of idolatry” and “let’s just focus on our kids because at least with them we have some promises and are starting from a clean slate” and “there is no way a bunch of people are coming to repentance and faith here” and “if an angel doesn’t show up and tell me audibly that God has many in this city I am moving” and “God has clearly chosen to Sodom and Gomorrah this place, just without the flames.” I am not defending any of those thoughts at all, just confessing them. They lead to working out of either despair/duty or anger, and both rot as pastoral motivations.
Anyway, we are heading to preach through Thessalonians in the fall and as I have begun reading, reflecting, studying, I have been gently corrected by our Father. I know this is basic, but my first pass through was a reminder that those Thessalonians were totally pagan, totally Gentile, totally freaked out in every moral category, no idea who Moses was or what holiness looked like, not Biblically literate or anything… and yet reading that letter you can see that God did, did, did, did pour out grace through the proclaiming of the Gospel and planting of churches and that totally lost people did, did, did become beautifully functioning, redeemed members of Jesus’ church. They did not need to be bridged to Judaism but to Jesus, and it happened. Paul ‘sounds’ like he is writing to some people who were raised from birth in the reality of the Gospel, and yet these are folks who had just turned from idols ten minutes ago.
Wow. It can happen. God did it.
And so I repent of my unbelief and am seeking to continue to do this work out of faith that He digs doing it and intends to do it here.
If you are struggling like that with doubt that God can save the grown-up & super-lost people in your zip, a read through 1 Thessalonians might do your soul some good.
Praying for you guys weekly, especially for your holiness. “God keep my brothers far from evil.” And your families.
7 Mile Road