Parallel thoughts

As I go along this process (though not managing to keep strictly to the daily journaling), I have had a variety of parallel thoughts and experiences, including the following.
This discernment process is about New Church Planting. I have over the years prayed about the possibility of my being a new church planter, and have consistently sensed that I am not called to that particular ministry. I have no current sense that this is changing. Rather, I am experiencing an awakening in myself toward evangelism (vital to new church planting and to congregational transformation/vitality). I have a growing desire to support the work of new congregations in any way I can, including supporting their leadership through encouragement and coaching. I am praying that as I enter into this Barnabas Coach/Encourager Ministry that the LORD will work in powerful ways through those new relationships. One of the central impressions I am having from all of these readings in the discernement process is around the visible manifestations of the power of God in the church and community, to which people respond with faith and new conversion experiences. What I long and pray for in my own ministry at Forest Grove, as well as the work with NCPs, is the manifestation of God’s power. I’m reminded of the text from Acts 13 – 47 For this is as the Lord commanded us when he said, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’ This quote in Acts comes from Isaiah 49:6, where God is telling Isaiah how he will be used in the redemption story. Paul & Barnabas claim this text by extention as part of their own calling as well. Isaiah 49 is an inspiring chapter of promise and challenge from God about a future of hope, restoration and redemption toward which we move and in which we minister.
Even as I live into this new calling (or new articulation of an old calling?) we at Forest Grove are in the midst of great transition, which brings with it both hope and anxiety. I realized last week that in September we are changing every weekly programming activity across the entire congregation. We did not intend that to happen, but it seems to have unfolded that way. As a Ministry Council which planned and will carry out these changes we are hopeful that God will bless what we are doing, or rather that we are doing what God desires to bless. We believe we are being faithful to the things that God is doing and saying, and to the leadings of the Spirit in the midst of the congregation. I wonder, as I read the discernment texts in this process, how to balance humility with boldness. The apostles kept speaking and acting with boldness, and yet we know that great humility is necessary, for ‘Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) So, how to bring together boldness and humility? That perhaps is the greatest leadership challenge I currently face, both in the congregation, and outside. It is the challenge of evangelism as well, I think – to be bold in sharing one’s faith without being arrogant. This is part of my prayer project this week.

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