I am sorry to see you go but I truly believe your leaving is within the plans of our God. He is so much bigger than any local church.
I know your leaving has been a painful process. I know you have experienced frustration and loss. It is so difficult for us to understand why God would put an aching within us but not simultaneously ignite our local church leaders with the same vision. But I wonder if any new ministries or such a wide variety of ministries would exist if the Lord made it so that each church would simply realign to every new ministry idea.
Still, it is difficult when we bring new ideas forward and hear, “Not us, not here, not now” in response. Inside we are so sure what we are pushing is God’s desire. When we get a negative response we often jump to one of two wrong conclusions.
1) This church is closed to hearing what God wants.
2) This vision must not be God’s desire.
Andy Stanley has said, “Date your goals. Marry your vision.” Fight for your vision and don’t give up on it. But don’t fight your local church and wage war against your brothers and sisters. Preserve God’s vision within you. At the same time, preserve peace and unity in the local church.
After all, where is your faith? While it is easy to oppose the leadership of your church when it doesn’t endorse your vision, you would be hesitant to blame God, right? Would you say, “God just doesn’t recognize how important this is so He hasn’t spoken to the leaders He appointed?” Of course not! God may well have put this dream within you, but if He has not moved the leadership to adopt it, maybe He’s calling you out. Maybe he’s calling you to back off and pray (not recruit). Both are good things.
What an awesome tapestry of ministry our God has woven here in the United States. We have liturgical churches complete with robes and incense, small churches where family is the theme, churches that rock with pumping sound and lights and churches where saints gather to sing their comforting old hymns. We have ministries to bikers, prostitutes, teenagers, ethnic groups, truckers and college campuses. In every situation the message of Jesus is preached. Each began with a vision just like yours.
Fight for your vision. Wage war to accomplish what God has called you to. But please understand that your local church and its leadership is not the enemy. Scripture is clear that you are not to fight your brothers and sisters.
I remember serving in a local church as the pastor to students. The leadership, in prayerful gatherings, agreed that the needs of the church were greatest in children’s ministry. They approached me to ask me to move to children’s ministry to best meet the needs of the local body, but I knew that my vision and calling were focused on teenagers. Though it was painful, I resigned on the spot. When the leadership suggested rethinking their decision since it meant losing me, I encouraged them to stick with what God had led them to and not change it to accomodate me. I had no idea what I would do next but I knew my vision remained unchanged.
Parents of teenagers started calling me and pulling me aside in the halls of the church to tell me what a mistake it was. Some threatened to leave the church. Some wanted special meetings. Some were convinced that they were being kept in the dark and that the “truth” hadn’t come out. I encouraged them to support their leaders, trust God and know that He was in control. I did my best to encourage perspective and keep the crisis below Watergate level.
Though it was a painful transition for me and the church, today I see how God set it all in action. The church attracted new families with a dynamic children’s ministry and I accepted a great position in another church that God blessed. Had I allowed them to rethink their decision and accommodate me, I would not be where I am today and that church would have continued to shrink. Had I been drawn into fighting the leadership God had assembled in that church to preserve my vision, I would have gone against the Lord’s plan for me and for them. My vision was intact. Only the location was changing.
As you leave, my friend, know that I am sorry you feel discouraged. Know that I understand your frustration. I know it means leaving friends behind. But also know that I trust God to work His plans here in this church and in your life. I pray that you will either find the body that has been praying for God to send you or that you will boldly begin something new.
Leave well. Honor Jesus. Speak well of others. Trust God. Go in peace.
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15
You have seen this as the death of the vision? I suspect it may just be the beginning.
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