In my last post I talked briefly about my transition to pastor of Cypress Lake Baptist Church. I'm coming up on the completion of 3 years here as pastor and I am keenly aware that God is extremely patient with His church (and pastors!). I came into this church with a ton of hopes and dreams. Being in a heavily unchurched area I thought the harvest is plentiful and was ready to labor to reap. I had hopes of transitioning the church smoothly and quickly so that we would be a missional church reaching our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had plans and dreams of everyone who was already here joining in on the mission God had given us here in SWFL.
He's patient. He's far more patient than I am. My first year here we saw several visitors, but added maybe 2-3 new members. In fact, there was very little change overall. Everything pretty much stayed the same. Now, I was asked to come lead this church through change, but it wasn't happening. At least, it wasn't happening visibly. Our music stayed the same. Our dress stayed the same. Our structure stayed the same. Our ministries stayed the same. Everything appeared to be the same. And this began to cause some impatience on my part. I was ready to move forward...yesterday! But it didn't seem like God was using me to move this church anywhere.
I was wrong. Just because God doesn't appear to be working or moving doesn't mean He's not (just read Habakkuk 1 and you'll see this to be the case). God was working. He was working in my heart and in the hearts of His people here at CLBC. He was clarifying for me several factors (and still is). He was helping me to see how completely dependent upon Him we really are if we are to see any real, lasting change. He was working in the hearts of our people as many were growing in the Lord and becoming more and more gospel-focused. He was preparing us for whatever His will was in this church.
Looking back I can see the unbelievable amount of growth/change that came even in that first year. Though we didn't add or lose too many people that first year, we made some big decisions and were growing in grace. To put it simply, God was using my feeble attempts at preaching His Word to build up His people. He is patient. He is patient to work in my heart. He is patient to work in His church. But one very clear lesson to learn and to relearn is that though He is patient He is still working in and through His people.
I am grateful to be loved by such a patient God!