22 Apr 2019

Do Not Be Discouraged

Nathan Camp

As a church planter and a pastor, I know Easter can feel like the height of importance to our churches. For many of us, this is our biggest day of the year. In fact, I planted my first church plant on Easter Sunday, knowing I would have a full house! 

Easter is a big deal. And because it’s a big deal, we can put extra pressure on ourselves and our teams for this particular Sunday. From worship to the welcome team, to the preaching, we want to put our best foot forward. And it makes sense. 

Historically, Easter Sunday has the largest number of attendees for churches. Many churches will see record crowds come to their services. This is also the time they see many salvations and rededications to the Lord. These are truly wonderful parts of Easter. 

However, I also know that Easter Sunday does not always go the way we had hoped. I know first hand what it is like to have had such high hopes for our Sunday service, only to leave discouraged and ready to quit the ministry. 

In fact, I believe something many people do not understand is that the Monday after Easter is not always the most encouraging day for church planters and pastors. Many had expectations of reaching more people than those who actually showed up. They wanted to put on their best church service ever, but instead, they had technical issues, strife with staff members, or a message that seemed to fall flat. Because of this, many church planters and pastors woke up today feeling heavy and discouraged. 

If that’s you, I want to take a few moments to encourage you with this thought: No matter what you are seeing, know that you are not seeing it all!

As a church planter and pastor, I have a gift of walking into a room and seeing everything that is wrong. If you're a church planter or pastor, you know exactly what I am talking about. I can see the light bulb that is out, the typo on the bulletin, and the trash left on the stage that only pastors seem to notice. I also know what it’s like to feel as though my sermon did not go the way I wanted it to go, the worship was off key, and the number of others places the Easter service failed to meet my expectations.

I can tell you from many years of preaching experience that many of the messages we preach that might feel dull and discouraging to us are the very ones God uses to change someone’s life! Remember: the Gospel preached (whether through an illustration, point, or story) was still “the power of God unto salvation” for some of those who were sitting in the audience! 

The reality is, it’s not what we say that matters so much, but what the Holy Spirit says to hearts about what we are saying. 

Yes, we would all love mass-numbers at the altar call and full membership classes on Easter, but the truth is, fruit is often born in secret or cannot be seen right away. 

Friends, it is so important that your eyes are not looking to the here-and-now in ministry but to the harvest that comes in time. As an unsaved teenager, I went to church for three months before I ever allowed the Gospel to touch my heart and change my life. 

You cannot possibly know all that God is doing in your ministry - but you CAN know that God is moving! He is alive, real, and powerful, and He is doing things that your natural eyes cannot see. 

The truth is, Beloved, it’s not what you did that matters as much as what God is doing through it! And He’s even doing it today. Some of the words you spoke this weekend are ringing in the ears of the lost and hurting who were in your services. They are offering up whispered prayers, even at their cubicles, because you reminded them that there is a God who loves them and is attentive to their prayers. 

The enemy would want to discourage us, but I want to come alongside you and remind you that what you are doing is noble and powerful, and God is incredibly proud of you! Whether your attendance was four people, 400, or 4,000 makes very little difference. It's really our posture of faith that God is using to bring about the greatest glory - Jesus being lifted high in the hearts of lost men and women.

At StartCHURCH, we wanted to take a second just to say WELL DONE! Your numbers don’t matter to us (or to the Lord really), but what matters is that you were faithful to do it! You were faithful and fought through whatever challenges you faced this weekend. And best of all, you lifted up Jesus, the name above every other name. Do not be discouraged today, friend, because God is not discouraged! He is working and weaving stories together, and you had a hand in that. Rest in the fact that God is at work, perhaps even when you cannot see it. 

As you prepare for this next week’s message, thank God that you remember He is using you to do what you cannot do on your own: change the world around you for Jesus Christ! 

If you are feeling discouraged today, please know that we are praying for you, we believe in you, and we are here to serve you any way we can. 

May the Lord bless you!

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Raul Rivera

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