Jesus Is: Part III

I’ve spent my entire adult, post college life (1980–Present) serving ECF in either the #2 or #1 seat. Except for the first 18 months working as the office manager at McKenzie Glass Company, I have served ECF from a staff position. I was 23 year old when Paula and I were invited to serve as elders. To say the least, it’s been a blessed and wild ride! Several months after I assumed the lead role I heard the Lord speak to my heart with a degree of clarity that has been uncommon and infrequent. I’d like to say it happened while in prayer or a powerful church service or leaders conference, but it’s been pretty evenly split between the shower, driving or, in this case, walking across the church parking lot after lunch. At first glance this may sound unpleasant or cynical, but keep reading. This is what I heard:

Gary, you’re going to be like Jeremiah! You’re going to spend you’re life preaching, teaching, leading people who will, by and large, not listen to you. But I need you to be faithful in this role so as to guide those who will say yes to the call of the Holy Spirit into a way of life with God, but also to stand as a faithful witness against those who say no.”

I immediately knew He wasn’t speaking about ECF exclusively, but the health of Christianity, the “Church” in general while I’m alive. It was an unusual sensation hearing this so clearly because I actually felt encouraged and inspired. You see folks who do what I do are tempted to live in a never-ending, 7-day cycle of measuring our worth and success by the number of people attending and dollars given. Those things should be considered, but there are equally important metrics that are largely matters of character and heart and may take years to fully develop and impossible to measure. We live in one of the least “churched” regions of the USA. Maybe 5%? Now we’re learning that even the churched are attending only 1.4 times a month. It can be very discouraging.

As I wind down the “Jesus is…” series this Sunday I’m going to do my best to make a compelling argument that the Church, regardless of it’s present condition, remains the sole entity on the planet commissioned and equipped to accomplish the very thing Jesus died for and worth every ounce of our resource we offer to Jesus. It’s also the only thing upon which our enemy spends his resources to weaken, distract and divide! The Church remains The Hope of the World.

I hope to see you Sunday!

Happy Friday!