I’ve heard several planters say that at points in establishing the church, they realize that everything is going well… really well. People are coming to Christ. Families are jumping in and joining ministries at the church. The children’s and teen ministries are growing and expanding with great speed. And then they hold their breath. Waiting… for the storm to begin to rumble in the distance.
And as lightning strikes… they grab onto anything close to them and pray for God to carry them through. I know, because, we have just experienced this at our church. There was excitement everywhere at Thrive.. and then a slow ache of complacency creeped in. Doubts formed. Leaders were overwhelmed. And burnout begins to flicker.
The Looming Storm
If we turn to Matthew 8 and Luke 8, we learn how the disciples handled a very crazy storm upon Lake Galilee. I specifically love the description of this situation in Mark 4:35-41 (NLT).
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
How did the disciples handle the storm? With panic. With doubts that Jesus would allow them to perish. By trying to take control of the situation. So, how should they have handled it? Would they not have remembered King David’s song, where he wrote in 2 Samuel 22:10,
“He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.”
Their own fears clouded their vision of who was sleeping in the boat next to them. They chose to panic and distrust rather than put their faith and trust in the One who had created the world. Yes, maybe they didn’t trust that God would take care of them. Maybe they didn’t trust that God knew the outcome of the storm. But don’t we all do that? When storms erupt in our lives, is our first instinct to trust that the God who created those waves, rain, thunder and lightning? Do we trust that He has the power to keep EVERYTHING under control? Or do we need some reminding?
Handling a Storm
So, if a storm is breaching the church, what do you do as a leader? Do you wait it out? Take cover? (As some storm chasers would say…) Or do you do the unthinkable and drop to your knees?
Something that most people would see as strange when a storm approaches.
Instead of running… and shutting people and relationships out… address the storm for what it is. It is warfare, not brought on by those around you in your church but from the one who is deliberately trying to bring you down: Satan. A minister once told my husband to remember who the true enemy is… not those around you in the church who bring frustrations or issues… but the one who has battled against God since before time.
When issues crop up, address them head on. Pull those in question to you, point out what Satan is trying to do and then get on your knees together to ask God for a solution… and for His Protection.
Remind Yourself and Your Team.
This is not the time for panic. Leave all of that behind. (Take a few breaths if necessary.) Ask God for strength and peace to know how to handle the situation. Isaiah 26:3 says,
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
How do we keep our minds on Him? The easiest way we know how. Pick up His Word and remind yourself and team of his power and faithfulness to us. Keep a list of the things that God has shown his faithfulness in the past and reflect on them during these times. Knowing and remembering these things will help you to push through to the calm after the storm.
This verse shouts to me when I am weary and downtrodden. John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Gather your troops and read through scriptures that will uplift and give you strength. Remind each other of God’s faithfulness. Then pray and support each other through these times.
Stay tuned for Part 2!!