Pastor's Blog

Our little church had worked hard for almost fifteen years to save the money to purchase a 13-acre plot of ground for expansion.  Finally, that day arrived.  We paid cash for the property – everything we had -- and one of our elders quipped, “In about ten years we’ll have enough for a down payment so we can put a building on the property!”

I felt like a quickly deflating balloon flying willy-nilly around the room.

We couldn’t afford additional staff, so I had been pastoring alone, leading two services for several years and there was talk of adding a third.  I was getting stretched thin emotionally and I was wearing out.  I didn’t know if I could do it for another ten years.  So, I did something – actually TWO things – that were completely uncharacteristic of me.

Although I am committed to the idea of being faithful and not giving up on a congregation entrusted to me, there have been a few times in my pastoral career – when the pressure seemed unbearable – that I thought about seeking a different church.  It’s uncharacteristic of me, but I’ve come to that point a few times.  One of those opportunities arose in the mid-90’s when I was struggling with the thought of doing two or more services for ten more years.  Through a series of providences (or what appeared to be providences) a door opened to take a church on the west coast.  I went through a few phone interviews with leadership from that church.  The thought of getting out from under the pressure at Mountain View sounded like such a relief. 

But I just couldn’t bring myself to complete the process.  The grass certainly looked greener, but I couldn’t bring myself to abandon a flock entrusted to me by the Lord, people that I deeply loved.  Deep down I felt like I was taking the easy way out instead of learning crucial life lessons custom-made by a sovereign God Who wanted to mold me through hardship. 

I terminated the candidating process with the west coast church.  But I determined that if I were going to stay at Mountain View, I wasn’t doing another ten years of two services (much less, three!).  The second uncharacteristic thing I did was to challenge our congregations to quickly raise the money for a new building so we could get back together as one church.  I’m not a big cheerleading project-leader executive type of guy, nor am I a big risk-taker who loves to try new things.  I’m staid and prosaic.  But I did not want another ten years of struggle and discomfort for myself, my family, or the church.  Other churches were able to raise money and build, I thought, so why shouldn’t we?  The worst we could do was fail.  So why not take the risk and try?

I knew NOTHING about big building projects.  They don't teach you that in Bible college or seminary, and I’m a teacher by gift, not an executive or administrator.  But the Lord put men and women around me who knew all about raising money and working with engineers and builders and governments and attorneys – and I hate to put it this simply – but the next thing I knew, we had the money for a down payment and were making plans to break ground. 

Those years and that process are a blur in my memory.  I don’t recall how it all came together.  I just know that it did.  There were many little providences that came together to enable us to move into a new building in June 2003 and become one congregation again after seven years of being two.  And that launched a new leg of my life’s journey.

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