And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. Genesis 6:13-14
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
When it comes to building churches, there is no shortage of conventional wisdom. And in matters of church growth, church finances, and (alas) church conflict, the “church world” is loaded with advice and counsel. Moreover, add to that the wisdom of the secular world about how to build a corporation or how to lead an army or how to have a winning team (much of which wisdom gets imposed on church leadership), and you could fill a library with all the ways that it makes sense to build a church.
But God is not impressed with our conventional wisdom…never has been. At a time when the world had never even seen rain before and over a project schedule of some 100 years or so, God had Noah build an ark. On dry land. In the middle of a wilderness. There was absolutely nothing conventional about it. In fact, Noah was surely considered to be a crazy old drunk by pretty much anyone who knew him during this time, and his “project” was 100 years of sheer nonsense.
So, as I consider how incredibly closely Noah had to be walking with the Lord in order to rightly understand his assignment and to then fulfill it, I am captivated by the thought of just one church, one local body of believers, equally sold out and tuned in to God. Can you imagine the endless possibilities for that church?
I believe that, as church leaders, we must all get comfortable with the fact that God will often call us to do something that utterly defies conventional wisdom. He may give our church an assignment which makes no sense whatsoever, one which ultimately tests what we really believe about God. As leaders, we must be willing to embrace that nonsensical assignment, and we must teach our people to do so as well. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In fact, I would go one step further… If your church is considering a new ministry or other new direction and everything adds up perfectly and you can see every step of it already in place and there are no questions unanswered and it lines up completely with the world’s wisdom…I would at least question what makes us think it is from God!
I am not advocating chasing after God-sized dreams as a church without a clear sense of God’s direction. Not at all. Imagine if Noah correctly heard that God was going to destroy the world but built the world’s largest storm shelter instead of an ark. It’s not enough to dream big. It has to be God’s idea, done God’s way in God’s time. Getting all this right really would require extraordinary focus on Him through both individual and corporate prayer. It would require church leadership “walking with God” the way Noah did. And it would require being willing to have an entire community laughing at us and making fun of us because we make no sense whatsoever.
But, you know…I might just be willing to do it. You?
© Blake Coffee