What must don't know about Grace Community is that it has not always been a church of over 2000 people. Some don't realize that it was a church in decline many years ago. In fact, my first Sunday here about 17 years ago around 60 faithful people gathered to worship our amazing God.
I was young, and inexperienced when I started, but my faith was brimming over the top of the glass. I somehow believed that God wanted something special to happen on Goshen's west side of town. Call me naive, young, stupid or whatever else comes to mind, but what I did know was that Jesus gave his life for the local church. I knew that with God all things are possible.
I will admit that I was probably a little over-zealous in my youth, but it was birthed out of years of watching him miraculously provide for my own family along the way. You see, I just chose to believe that he was not finished with the church in Goshen. I still believe that is the case today too. So, with the help of a handful of faithful attendees we just began to pound the hallways of heaven, serve with passion and love like Jesus said we should. As a result of this,God began to unleash his power upon this fledgling work.
Now 17 years later, this is what I have learned in my journey.
* I never set out to be a mega-church, but I never said stop bringing us people God.
* God is willing and wanting to save people. And he looks for churches that have a burden for the lost and unloads help.
* Prayer is a must, prayer changes things, prayer is the answer to all of our questions
* Ignore the negative voices around you, address the concerns and sift criticism to see if there is something legit about it, but don't let it beat you up.
* You will be misunderstood, you and your family will take incredible hits, but it will never compare to what Jesus went through
* You attract who you are and what you believe; cynicism, judgment, jealousy will destroy churches; but faith, transparency, humility, truth, honesty, passion, love and a hunger for Jesus is a magnet for many in our world.
* Never say never, we serve the God of the impossible
* Don't take yourself too seriously or think more highly of yourself then you should. Its all because of Jesus
* Stay on top physically, pastoring a church is the hardest thing on planet earth and regular exercise gives you the ability to face it.
* Develop leaders, empower people with your vision, you need great leaders around you and i have always had great leaders with me.
* Have fun, ministry is demanding, look for ways to live it up
* Prioritize your family, I can never be a successful pastor if I have failed as a Father and husband.
* Be an encourager, everyone needs courage injected into them, words are powerful .
* Be a life long learner, read, read, read; study, study, and never get to a point where you have "arrived"
* Always give God the credit, always, always
* Smile often and say thanks regularly, way too many pastors are too angry!
* Find ways to recover, find hobbies, recharge regularly
* Have accountability, don't dare think that you can't miserably screw everything up
* Put on the armor of God everyday, we are in a battle
* Laugh, laugh and laugh some more, at yourself and funny things.
* Be generous in everything you own and posses, help other churches and people whenever you can
* Go after the men, and challenge them to lead in a tender way
* Don't ever stop casting a compelling vision, people need to know where they are going
* Give grace, and some more grace, and little more than that. Our world longs for Grace,
That is a partial list, but all that to say this. As I sit here today, I marvel at what God has done and want to say thanks to all the faithful followers along the way who have joined me in this journey. To God be all the glory, Go Grace Community go!