Wednesday, April 20, 2011

SUCCESS: as defined by God


This past Sunday, at Triumph High School, marked the last Element Church South Campus worship service. While it was a great time of worship and an amazing last Sunday, it was marked by a mix of joyful and sorrowful emotions. It was bittersweet to say the least. Some will look at the closing of South Campus as a failure. And by human standards maybe it looks that way. Did we do everything right? No. Did we learn a lot? Yes. Did it go exactly the way we wanted it to? Nope. But…that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a success. When you define success as God sees it, we were a screaming success. And why were we? Because our success is fully defined by our obedience to God. God called us to start South Campus and whether it was destined to last 4 months or 4 years, we obediently answered that call. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15) Our love for Jesus left us no choice but to be obedient to God’s call. And the best part is this…through our obedience God did some amazing stuff at South Campus.

Back on January 8th, the day before launch Sunday, I felt that there was some stuff that God laid on my heart to share with the people that would put their hearts, sweat and blood (a couple people did bleed…you know who you are) into making South Campus happen. I was doing my devotional out of Romans 12 and as I read I felt that God was telling me that what I was reading was for S. Campus, but I was unsure of how or when to share it with them. In my journal that day I wrote, “This is going to be such an important chapter for South Campus. Eventually they will have to hear this.” When I found out that God had closed the door for South Campus, the message He gave me on that day fit perfect.

The verses that God specifically used to speak to me were 6 thru 10. Realistically God had been speaking v. 9 & 10 to my heart for a lot longer than Jan 8th. As I led the theSHIFT last year (post about that transition HERE), we often focused a lot of time trying to teach the importance of loving each other within Christian Community. We had taught Rom 12:9 & 10 on a number of occasions. What we were able to do was build this community that wanted and did their best to follow Jesus (we didn’t always do it well, but that was our focus) and we took serious His command to love one another.

Last August/September God began stirring my heart for some stuff and a part of that stirring included my call to serve at the South Campus. I eventually met with Pastor Jeff and Pastor Kody and joined the amazing team of leaders in preparing for the SC launch. But it wasn’t until the day before we launched, as I read R 12, that God used v. 9 & 10 to confirm my purpose/our purpose at SC. They say:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

That is what we’re called to: to love each other, to honor each other. THAT is Christian Community. Really there is more involved in Christian community, but at its core that is the point of Christian community.
When I finished reading R12, I prayed. I asked God what that looked like. For us as Element Church to love ALL of Cheyenne (including the south side of town) and to take Jesus to them. As I prayed, I felt like I had missed the real point that God was trying to get me to see. So I re-read it. As I read v. 6-8, that point smacked me in right in the heart. This is what they say:

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

The most important part of those verses is the very first sentence: In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

You see, God, IN HIS GRACE, has equipped each of us with certain abilities to serve others with. EVERYONE needs to know, understand and BELIEVE that God has equipped ALL of us with a specific talent to serve others with.

The verses that follow, in v. 6b – 8, instruct us that if God has equipped you with a certain gift, then you are to use it to serve others in that way. If you’re gifted in giving, give generously, whether it time, money or materials, because the truth is, giving does come easier for some. If you’re gifted to teach, you should be teaching, leading a community group. If you’re gifted to serve people, you should be serving people, whether it's in FI or the children’s area. The point is, God has equipped all of us for a purpose and that’s to serve others.

So, what does that mean for SC and Element Church in S. Cheyenne? That we take the gifts that God, by His grace, had equipped us with and serve them. That we continue to take the Good News that Jesus saves to them.

Here’s what it means for those that call or want to call Element Church home. There are still opportunities to serve at NC. There are still areas that need people to step up and give. People that will obediently use the gifting that God has given them.

The truth is, while there absolutely are differences in what people in S Cheyenne may need compared to what people in N Cheyenne may need, there is actually only one REAL need in all of the Cheyenne area and it’s Jesus Christ.

It’s still OUR job, OUR call, OUR command to love and serve ALL of the Cheyenne area to Jesus and we’ll continue to do that. All YOU need to do is decide if you’re willing to be obedient to that call.

Just in case you’re wondering what this means for me, here it is. Since there isn’t a SC anymore, there is obviously no need for a SC Pastor. But, I have a ton of change coming up in the next year. Soon (not soon enough though), I get to marry the love of my life, Sarah (Blog HERE). Between us we have 3 boys (that can be a full time ministry in and of its self). Then, next June I get to separate from the USAF and seek what God would have me do in full time ministry. So the next year will be spent preparing my family for the calling God has placed on us. The truth is that SC was just a small part of what I felt God stirring my heart for and calling me to. What’s next is sure to be difficult. It will require a lot of sacrifice from me and my family, but it will be perfect because it has to be ALL God.

I deeply believe in and support the vision God has given Pastor Jeff (Blog HERE) for Element to reach the lost in the Cheyenne area. So because of that, I will, of course, continue to answer God’s call for me to serve Element Church as long as I’m in Cheyenne. Sometimes you’ll see me at the front doors, sometimes doing announcements, and maybe teaching in youth a couple times this summer (stoked for that), and even facilitating a community group or two. But make no mistake; I and my family will continue to serve God’s people and the Cheyenne area, in and through Element Church.

Thanks to those that put their hearts into South Campus. I love you all more than you know.

Excited for what’s to come,
Bruce