2014 was an exciting year for Rock Church. That, of course, while true, is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it was an exciting year, but every year is an exciting year at Rock Church. Anyone who has been a part of the Rock for more than two years will know that is true. That’s because we are aggressive pursuers of our calling as a church, but haven’t yet solved the puzzle of how do we claim more territory for Jesus—and actually let God lead?
Those two forces can work in concert, or they can be diametrically opposed.
Where do our efforts stop and God’s begin? How do we completely rely on God and yet still know how hard to push? How do we grow into a world-class organization, complete with a buttoned up management style, but at the same time, still take our hands off the reigns?
Yes, it’s difficult to know. Exciting, but difficult.
And yet, 2014 may be different from other years because I think the answer came slightly more into focus. It was a year when we would try to do some big things. We would try to grow attendance. We would try to add to our number of campuses. We would launch some new technology with Miles-a-Minute. We would try to roll out our 18th annual Toys for Joy, this time in three locations. Pastor Miles would throw open the door to the Holy Spirit—so that we could corporately witness the truth: God is in control of our worship services, and not us.
Some things went off without a hitch, and some offered surprises and hardships and reasons for heartburn around every corner. Of course, it was the difficult moments where we learned the most about ourselves, and God.
Sometimes it was as if we were all inside a train speeding along toward our goal and suddenly, it felt like the train had jumped the tracks. And what was the first thing we would all do? We would reach for something to grab onto and wince and brace hard for the impact.
But here’s what I believe we learned. Each time we jumped the tracks, God always built more track beneath us, leading us in a new direction. Our reaction might have been understandable and even human, but it was short of what God has called us to: absolute certainty that He is guiding our steps—and that all bumps are opportunities for faith and freedom.
From my perspective, I think we’ll be different in 2015. I’m really looking forward to it. It will be so great to one day get it right—to walk the high wire without a safety harness. God is our safety.
From my perch as the microsites pastor, we started 2014 with eight microsites and a goal for twenty by year’s end. Somewhere along the way I really got a sense that the goal, while a good thing, could be a weight around our necks if we let it. So instead of pushing to create 20 microsites, I pushed to create better leaders out of our microsites team. After all, we didn’t have the people to come to the sites, but we did have the team. So we invested in raising them up for when the waters swirled with fish. It wasn’t logical. It was anti-logical. In other words, it was faith.
When we did launch a new microsite and only a few people showed up, the discouragement was evident in the microsite team’s faces—it was that human reaction again. But the way I saw it, God was merely giving us more time to prepare—to have patience while He was at work. When you think about it, Jesus seemed to be saying to his disciples, don’t worry about the number of fish, just prepare the nets.
At year’s end, we didn’t end up with twenty microsites—we ended up with thirty-six. And Rock Church did increase our regular attenders, Miles-a-Minute has increased followers, we had over 9,000 guests at our three Toys for Joy locations, and we had more healings than we’ve ever had before. And on and on and on.
A greater level of trust is a pattern that seems to be making its way through the church. I’m so thankful that it finally seems to have reached me. It is creating in all of us greater excitement and anticipation for 2015, a year where we will be less weighed down by our own fears and can move more nimbly in the knowledge that God has lovingly prepared our path. All we have to do is to walk boldly on it.
It’s all about trust.