A man asked me tonight how it felt to pastor a growing and thriving church of 100+ people. The question actually caught me off guard, and I'm sure I looked at him very quizzical. Without much thought however, the first words that came out of my mouth were, "I'm so humbled and overwhelmed at the same time." I truly meant that too. All increase belongs to God whether that increase is what we would call minimal or substantial. And ultimately, anything and everything that takes place that is good comes from above according to scripture. We're all just clay in the Potter's hands. He doesn't need us, but He wants us, and we're blessed that He uses us. In that vein, I'm humbled. I'm beyond humbled to be a part of a church that in 13 months has now seen 58 people saved/rededicated with the seven that were added during tonight's service. That's beyond amazing for me. What's even more amazing is that of those 58 since February 2014, 51 are actively attending the church and many have become leaders in some way. These weren't just prayers prayed and padded numbers. Real revival has been taking place and families are coming together. One young woman told me that after getting her life back right with God, her marriage which was already scheduled for divorce, got put back together and they couldn't be happier. The divorce papers got ripped up, and the family is stronger than they've ever been. We've had numerous people confess to putting down alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, and other substances. It's been an amazing thing to see.
I'm humbled that in 13 months, 30 of these have taken a big step forward and have been baptized in water. The church has held two baptismal services in the last 13 months. These two services are the first times in the history of the church that a baptism was done inside the sanctuary. I'm humbled that many of those saved and others who have come into the church already saved, but looking for a home church, have decided to join with the church in membership officially declaring that they are on board with the vision and believe this is the church for them and their family. Some 41 people have made that declaration over 13 months, and I'm humbled.
And if I'm not careful, I'm overwhelmed. I honestly don't know how I ended up experiencing these things. The church roster has grown by some 80+ people to the point where we've been running close to, if not above the 100 mark for some time now. Attendance records have been broken. Financial records have been broken. Spiritual results are setting records. And somehow, I get to be the pastor of this church, in my hometown, where I started what might be considered my first part-time youth ministry some fifteen years ago. Yes, I'm humbled and very much overwhelmed at times because I don't deserve this at all. I'm very cognizant of the fact that I am nothing without Christ and can do nothing without Him. He's been so good to me, and I don't deserve any of His blessings in my life.
When I prayerfully planned and considered doing this Spring Revival back in November of last year, my heart's desire was that it would propel the church forward and that it would stir our hearts and introduce our church to our community in a new and exciting way. I believe the revival accomplished all of that and then some. God answered my prayers. Pastor Alton Carter preached a very straight-forward message Sunday night on "flesh faith" and reminded us that we can do nothing without Christ and that He is in control of all things. We have the power to change our city. Pastor Alton spoke words over our church that "lack would not be our problem" as we go forward into the vision. "We will take our city." Pastor Dewain Joiner preached like a man on fire reminding us that Christ came that we might have life, and life more abundantly. He reminded us that we can choose life or death, but that if we choose Jesus, we'll never be defeated. We have endured battles and will endure many more as we take territory for the Lord, but the battle is won and Jesus is victorious and we're on His team! Tuesday night, Pastor Johnny Taylor spoke an anointed word calling us to show up where Jesus is and to take the initiative to run after Him and believe in spite of circumstances. Jesus is pulling for us. We just have to make ourselves available. Then tonight, Dr. Stephen Darnell preached in my opinion, one of the greatest sermons I have ever heard preached in my entire life. Some of the subject of the sermon I had heard before and had even preached some of it last Easter, but Dr. Darnell brought out some of the most in-depth points under the power of the anointing detailing Christ's suffering and the thief's redemption at Calvary. The anointing was so strong and God's glory so descended that it was as if you could cut it with a knife. I sat and cried almost the whole sermon under the power of God. His presence was so real tonight. It was a divine encounter for all present. In January, Dr. Darnell told us we need to prepare ourselves to build soon as God was going to overtake the church and through the church, the city. Tonight he reminded us that God was moving in the church in ways that only few churches ever get to experience. He reminded us to keep pushing forward and prepare to expand. These words continue to be spoken over the church and the vision is constantly being confirmed. And I hear these things and see these signs and wonders, and I know that I, a man who would rival Paul for the title of "chiefest of sinners," am in the middle of His perfect will and plan just because He loves me and not because I deserve it. It's why I work and push and fight and preach and plan. He's given me so much, (and that's if only the cross is considered); I want to give Him everything.
So yes, I'm humbled and overwhelmed. I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I've been afforded. I'm so thankful to see what I'm seeing. I needed to see this. I needed to experience this in the worst way. I'm so thankful for my church family who literally are my "family" in every sense of the word. I'm so thankful for the team of leaders that God has divinely put together both over ministries and on our council. We share a bond that will only grow deeper and stronger as we travel this road together. No one associated with this God-thing will ever be the same. No one will ever be able to deny what has taken place plainly before our eyes. We've not arrived. We still have holes to fill. We still have things to fix, ministries to start, buildings to build, and places to grow. We're still very much a work in progress, but if I've learned anything this week, it's that God has us exactly where He wants us and we are being positioned to see His hand move in ways unimaginable just a year ago. This won't happen without battles. It won't happen without tests of our faith. There will be valleys, but God will be faithful. Our job is to follow, trust, believe, stay focused, and move forward.
All of these things make my heart full of praise. Seeing some people that I've known most of my life this week and watching the Lord touch them has energized me. For those who came this week that do not have a home church or who are looking for a home and a place to plug in, I welcome you. Come experience the difference. We'll stand and believe with you. We'll take you as you are. We'll accept whatever baggage you have to bring with you. You don't have to hide or clean yourself up. Come as you are.
Again, thank you to everyone who made this Spring Revival such an outstanding success. Thank you church for being who you are. It's been a wild ride and God has blown my mind on many occasions, and I know there are plenty more to come. We're closer than we've ever been to something big taking place and I do have some exciting news to share at our upcoming Quarterly Conference business meeting on April 12th. It's amazing. God is awesome. May He receive all the praise, glory, and honor forever and ever. We can't praise Him enough. I'm so blessed beyond measure.
So thinking on the question that sparked such an outpouring of thoughts and feelings, "How does it feel . . . ?" I stand by my original response. "I'm humbled and overwhelmed at . . . God."