Most of my adult life has been spent with the same group of people. I preached in the same place to basically the same folks every week. By spending time with the same people you really get to know folks. Life is lived daily. There is security in knowing and being known. For the past four years I live with different folks each week. Four years ago I was a familiar stranger having lived in this area years ago. I would frequently see folks I knew in the past, but mostly I was meeting people for the first time. Preaching to a familiar crowd helps one to preach like a shepherd. I knew the sheep and the sheep knew me. Now my preaching is like that of an evangelist or guest speaker. I speak to mostly strangers in places where I do not live. Yet, there is joy and challenge in seeing the work of the church in places large and small. Some observations:
1 God is still at work. In spite of what you may think by listening to the news or based on anecdotal evidence. God is still working in and through His people.
2. There are many who are serving and they are serving well. Many serve behind the scenes, and they are faithful. And they are making a difference. I am humbled by your Christlike witness.
3 God is working in places that you may never have hear of and could not find them on a map. But the light is shining brightly.
3 Many are discouraged. Many are feeling defeated. God is using you and He is working in ways you can not always see. I believe God is doing more beneath the service than what we can see from our human perspective. There is much that causes discouragement. At times it is a matter of perspective.
I love being the cheerleader for what God is doing is places that rarely get much notice. Rather than being discouraged, I am encouraged by what I see in many places. Now, there are some tough situations in really tough places, but overall I am really encouraged. We have things happening that I never imagined when I was a pastor. I only knew what was transpiring where I lived. As a District Superintendent I have the privilege of being in a different church nearly every week. I have a front row seat to witness what God is doing through His church. I can testify that there is much to be celebrated. Now don’t misunderstand, there are many changes that need to happen as well. As a pastor many times I was guilty of wanting to see things progress faster than it was happening. We desire to see change take place. Yet, periodically we need to take a step back and honor the good things God is doing through the people where we serve and live. impatience is something we all experience quite often. It is the battle between the microwave and the slow cooker. Some things take time. Your Biblical world-view was not developed in a moment or even a day, it took time. I love seeing God work His will in surprising ways and in places big and small. I have one of the most exciting privileges in the world. I see God working in 22 different counties in a segment of the state in which I reside. The view from the roads I travel upon is a view of God’s grace and mercy.