10/28/2010 8:17 PM
It may seem like strange advice but one of the best pieces of advice that I would give any church leader is simply: "remember, everything ebbs and flows."
What does that mean?
It's like waves in the ocean ebb (recede) and then flow (come towards the shore). It's that back and forth movement. It's the rhythum of life and it's the rhythum in ministry and churches.. It's the rhythum of everyone's life and it's something you can't control.
It's a bit like saying, three steps forward, two steps back. Only it's not always in that numerical order. Sometimes it's three steps forward, four steps back. Or two steps forward, three steps back. Or five steps forward, two steps back. Something like that.
It's not consistant, that's for sure but after awhile you get the definite feeling of a back and forth or my best description is ebb and flow kind of feeling.
I'll give you an example. Someone finds Christ for the first time. They are excited, passionate and full of good intentions. They start coming to church every week. They can't stop talking about God and Jesus and how much they LOVE the church. They get baptized and come to every thing possible there is to attend in the church. And just like that, they suddenly disappear from everything.
After a few weeks, you call them, to tell them you miss them, and they give you all kinds of great reasons they haven't been around. They swear they will be there the following Sunday. They don't come. Weeks go by and you still don't see or hear from them. You wonder what in the world happened? They were so excited and engaged!
Just when you're about to give up on them completely, suddenly they show up again. They've missed church they tell you. They're back to stay, they proclaim. And the next week, you're happy to see them again. But the week after that, they're gone again and so goes the ebb and flow, especially in the beginning of the faith journey it seems.
This is just one type of ebb and flow within the church but I have noticed it happening in a myriad of ways. The one thing I've learned is you can't fight it, you just have to ride it out and let it happen.
Ebb and flow is movement and that's exactly what the church is all about. That part of what it means to be the church fascinates me. It's not an organization, it's totally organic and so alive! I watch in complete awe as it shifts and moves and morphs! It kind of reminds me of being a kid looking through a Kalidescope; different colors and shapes and patterns continually shifting and changing. One person leaves, another one comes, ebb and flow, shift and change.
I wish everyone could have the same view that I have of the church. I guess the most amazing thing about it is seeing the presence of a Living God moving in its midst. There are no words to describe how wonderful, how alive, how totally amazing it is to watch it blossom and GROW!!!
And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
Don't fight the ebb and flow of ministry, friends. It may feel like you're going backwards at times, but you're not. It's part of the pulse and rythum that God uses to work through it all! Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus forever and ever AMEN!