I believe most of you reading this are members of Shady Grove Church, and this blog is for you.
At church on Sunday morning it was announced that Nathan and Courtney and their family will be moving to Brussels, Belgium in the spring. I am sure there were many who were very surprised, but also many of us were excited to hear the news officially announced. Jonathan and Destiny are also moving to Brussels, only much sooner. This got me thinking about the many leaders in Shady Grove that have been sent forth into the nations, and this got me thinking about different leaders and members who I see a calling on for the nations. And the common question is, with so many leaders being sent out, what's a church to do?
I understand the challenges of restructuring. I understand the tension between being excited for people stepping out in faith to follow God's call and feeling somewhat bewildered as to who will take their place or what will happen when they leave. I understand these challenges, but I have to admit that the challenges make me excited. Call me an enthusiast if you will, but my faith is stirred.
You see, I just spent a month and a half in a small village in eastern Germany called Herrnhut. We have been talking about Herrnhut lately at the Grove. When God's Spirit fell in Herrnhut in the 1700s, not only was a 24/7 prayer movement begun that lasted over 100 years, but also this little village of refugees became a missions sending community that birthed the modern day missions movement. At one point, Count Zizendorf was exiled from the country for 10 years. When he returned, there were only a handful of people he knew because so many had been sent out on the mission field!
Now I am sure this constant turnover of people being discipled and then being sent out was difficult and challenging; nevertheless, the people chose to live this life, to sacrifice those who were probably great leaders to reach the uttermost ends of the earth with the Good News. This inspires me. I am so grateful for the different leaders at Shady Grove. And I have watched as some have faithfully stayed to support the church even though they felt that their portion was in the nations. And what I am suggesting is that our gratefulness transfer into generosity in releasing those who feel called to go. It takes courage to go and it takes courage to stay, and I believe that there are people who are called to go and people who are called to stay. But I do think that as a church, we are called to send. Let us rise up in courage and complete dependence on the Lord. And as we send people out, let us rise up and say, "Here I am Lord, use me." One benefit of being a sending church is that people who perhaps never thought of themselves as leaders are brought to the place where they can stand up, where they can serve, where they can lead. I don't think that Shady Grove will ever be the "comfortable" place, but I believe this church is called to be a family, a community, of those who will say, "all for Christ!" "We will sacrifice, we will give, we will send, we will serve, we will pray, we will worship, we will look to You for our sustanance, we will fear not but will hide ourselves in the shelter of the Almighty."
I know that it might sound funny for me to say all of this since I myself have been sent out; nevertheless, Shady Grove is still my home, still my family. But I believe I speak for many missionaries when I say that I still care deeply for everything God is doing back home. And so much of the strength I feel is from the support back home. I may have physically left, but I have not abandoned. And just as I am encouraged by your support, I want to encourage you with what I see that God is doing.