(AND…in honor of Rick Warren, aka. Mr. Acrostic, I have listed my four reasons as H-O-P-E! Here we go…)
H = Hunger – I am seeing a hunger in pastors and church leaders like I’ve NEVER seen before. There seems to be a willingness to admit among many now that “if we always do what we’ve always done then we’ll always get what we’ve always got” and so, because of that, there is a desire to grow, learn and change. Denomination preferences are being put aside and people who would not even speak to one another 20 years ago are now sitting down at the table together to learn from each other. AND…church leaders are becoming more dependent on REVELATION from God and not just the IMITATION of others!
O = Optimism – There is a growing sense of optimism among church leaders unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There are more and more people reading their Bibles and beginning to see that God has WAY MORE in store for the church than we are currently experiencing (see John 14:12), that the book of Acts isn’t something we’re supposed to get back to…but rather was the launching pad that the church STARTED from! Badmouthing the church has gotten way uncool…and church leaders are now beginning to ignore the “experts” who merely want to badmouth the church on their website…but then ask the church to help them when they need to sell a book, CD or schedule a consulting gig!
P = Perseverance – When I was first introduced to work in the church world I believe the average stay for a pastor in a church was around 22 months (a youth pastor was 17 months!) Church leaders were not bought into the churches they were leading…many of them were merely using those churches as a stepping stone to further their ministry career and eventually wind up in their “dream job” at the “perfect church.” However, today I am seeing pastors and church leaders dedicate their lives to a vision, to a cause…and I’m seeing a willingness in leaders to fight through the difficult times and a desire to stay and fight the wolves rather than abandoning the flock so that they can be devoured. (See John 10:11-13) Church leaders are actually loving the people in their churches and are willing to work through the hard times so that they can see God do more than they could ever imagine.
E = Expectation – Church leaders are seemingly becoming more and more unsatisfied with unfruitful ministry! We are understanding more and more that IF the Bible is true, IF Jesus died on the cross to reconcile people to Himself (II Corinthians 5:15-21), IF He desires people to come to a knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:3-7), IF He has commanded us to reach the world (Acts 1:8), IF He has risen from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-4), IF He has given us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and IF He has empowered us to do His work (II Timothy 1:7) then to expect NOTHING to happen is simply inconsistent with Scripture, His commands and His character! There is a building sense of expectation of NOT just a revival in our land…but a brand new awakening/reformation!!!
I honestly believe the greatest days of the church are yet to be experienced!!!
The best really is yet to come!