Bishop Swanson told a wonderful story illustration about looking for God’s plans for us during Holston Annual Conference, 2022. He talked about losing car keys, which can be a part of everyday occurrences for many of us. But then when others try to refresh our memories, we often say, “Oh, I know they can’t be there”. His story continued with the revelation that “Since you don’t know where they are, you certainly don’t know where they ain’t, Amen”.
These remarks made me think about how, so often we neglect and ignore going back and planning something we’ve done in the past that was great discipleship and perhaps, a large program. But, because we feel like, we don’t have the volunteers, or we don’t have the numbers of children and youth we need to provide this ministry, it’s impossible. Subsequently, we don’t want to believe that an idea would work cause it’s out of our reach or seems impossible at this moment in time.
We say, “Oh, it can’t work now”, or “It was a different day and culture back then with no pandemic” or “That’s not the answer”. Folks, how do we know, unless we look and try? Do we trust God and His plan for us enough to ask Him for the help we need to use our creative mind processes that He gave us to come up with a ministry design?
Ministries that I began on small scales, but based on big God-Dream Events, grew when I stepped back with a prayed-up church by my side, and was proactive. Then the miracles happened. Yes, they happened coming in the most unexpected places in the most unexpected and surprising ways!
Perhaps, the answer for church growth is in “unexpected places” of the past, in a Vacation Bible School (remember, we’ve always been great at pulling that off) or a Music Camp that can be refurbished and redesigned in creative ways to enrich our discipleship goals. Or even through, perhaps a Family Bible School Community Event where the excitement is there, with an intergenerational flavor. We could restore a fuller version of God’s design by providing modeling and equipping parents for faith in the home when all ages are present.
Folks, begin with prayer and dream Big God-dreams, about how you, as a whole church team can cultivate faith as you explore and create new spaces for faith formation in God’s Design. The answer just may be there in the past. But you need to be proactive, “look back” and search for the “keys” even in those unexpected places.