Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REDUCE (11/05/15)
TITLE: Where To From Here?
By Kate Oliver Webb
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While a cocky kid in high school, he secretly thought of himself as “Casey Does Super,” just to keep the initials going. However, both then and—truth be told—lately, those who knew him well thought more along the lines of “Casey Does Squat.”
This was Casey’s eighth year as Senior Pastor of West Hills Praise Fellowship. Casey loved his Savior, and his little congregation, and he was a big dreamer. In his heart of hearts he wanted desperately to lead a growing congregation of fellow-believers who would, in turn, make more disciples, following his Lord’s command. It wasn’t going well.
He knew what others didn’t: he had worked SO hard to get his fledgling church off the ground all those years ago. He prayed. He fasted. He toiled and sweated, printing flyers, going door-to-door and car-to-car. He read books, invited guest speakers, promoted concerts. He held revivals, children’s crusades, and paid for newspaper ads out of his own pocket.
When those efforts produced only minimal interest among the great unchurched, he gathered together like-minded men and met weekly for more than a year to come up with a plan to, for lack of a better phrase, “promote growth.”
Pastor Casey (he was told that using his first name was friendlier, more welcoming) hired a Business Administrator, Pastor Mark Thompson. That learned and experienced person convinced Pastor Casey that the next step should be, he was absolutely convinced, a study of demographics, of “competing” neighborhood congregations, of civic programs with which they might involve themselves so as to do “outreach.”
Having set a business plan in motion, Pastor Mark then began to research exactly what was going on in some of those so-called “mega-churches.”
The first thing he noticed was that, without exception, those groups enjoyed the ministry of a “Praise and Worship Team.” The music seemed oh-so-professional, and the presentation was wonderful! It seemed those who gathered to worship together and hear the Word of God were enthused, enthralled, and quite responsive. Pastor Mark was impressed.
“It was wonderful,” he enthused to Pastor Casey. “What I’d suggest is that we seek out a few professional musicians. Christians, of course,” he said as an afterthought. “With the current culture, I believe that’s the way to go.”
Ordinarily, Casey would agree. The new Business Plan included ways to put the Gospel into a new cultural format which would attract the most number of people. New music would fit.
A few weeks later, Pastor Casey felt unable to shake his negative response to his Business Administrator’s ideas. He soon received a letter of resignation from Pastor Mark, who felt that his positive suggestions had fallen on deaf ears, and thus “felt led” to depart.
It wasn’t long before others of his “like-minded” team removed themselves from the Fellowship, because Pastor Casey wasn’t quite as forward-thinking as they were, and thus their little church wasn’t growing.
It was discouraging. No, it was depressing.
And then…Pastor Casey did the only thing he really knew to do. Where before, some eight years previous, he had prayed, now he was ready to listen—for prayer is a two-way street.
By the following Sunday, the handful of families who still remained had been contacted and informed as to what he planned to do. They could choose to join him, or not.
And so, on the first Friday evening of November, a small group gathered in the Spitz home. Without any singing, without preamble, this shepherd asked his little flock to turn in their Bibles to Acts 4:31 and they read in unison, “and when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
Humbly, Brother Casey spoke: “Do you really believe this? If you do, this is the way we’ll proceed. We will take one another’s hands symbolizing our unity, and pray conversationally, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us. Then for this evening, and weekly until God directs us otherwise, we will study from His Word how HE grew His Church.”
Smiling around at the small group he continued, “And we’ll let God take it from there.”
John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
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