Church planting – like so much of life in general – experiences its highs and lows. The seasons of exciting change and the seasons of delay, pain and anguish. Although I’ve heard it said many times by Christians and the bible itself, I’m learning on a deeper personal level, that hanging on to God’s promises is so important when the going gets tough.
The definition of a promise = a declaration or assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen.
A promise from God might look like a bible verse that keeps coming up again and again as you read through the bible (a friend of mine calls these ‘God-incidences’), a prophetic word from someone else that you know was in fact God speaking, where God is saying HE will do something on our behalf, with us, in us or through us. When things are hard we can go back to these promises and pray – appealing to God’s character as good Father that ‘Dad, you said!’. If God says HE will do something He cannot lie!
To help us as a church family hang on to the many things God has said and promised HE will do for us and with us:
For 2018 as we move into the Willows social club:
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They [new christians] will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like willows by flowing streams.
5 Some will say, “I belong to the Lord”;
others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, “The Lord’s,”
and will take the name Israel.”
All of Isaiah 35 – but in particular these verses:
“Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
…10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Another of things that we felt God was saying to us came in the form of two people at the same time feeling as though God had put the phrase ‘Double Double’ in their minds. This came out of the blue for both of them but as they began to share what they felt God was giving them; the other bust out laughing saying they had exactly the same phrase come to mind as something God was saying he wanted to do with us this year. We are not exactly sure what the double double means but as people praying into it they felt it was possibly about numbers of people, the growth of the church and resources. We began to ask God to increase the size of the church this year – believing for another 50 people or so by the end of the year! With the rate of the growth of the church in general in the UK and in the city of Hull this would be pretty miraculous.
Another interesting picture that two different people received at different times about this year was a picture of a molecule forming. Both people brought us this unusual picture, one of whom was a scientist and so thought often in terms of science pictures and concepts. The other, however, knows nothing of science but drew on a piece of paper what she could see in her mind. It was almost exactly the same as the first picture we’d been given. Both people felt it was God saying that last year (the first year of the church plant) was about the core of the molecule being formed (the team of people that planted the church together and those that became Christians and joined the church in the first year) and established. This year however both saw an acceleration of the molecule gathering a joining structures around already joining particles. Out from the core now came a joining structures and around them formed more molecules, beginning to cause a reaction like molecules do when they beginning expanding and joining together. Both felt this represented different things. One felt it was about our prayers reaching a ‘critical mass point’ (this was the scientist – can you tell?) and that they would begin to accelerate much faster this year. The other felt it was about new people who were linked to each of us already in the church, either coming to know Jesus for themselves or new people joining the church. Either way it is an exciting picture to pray about.