Reflections On Ten Years At Open Door Fellowship
When Open Door Fellowship first started, 2022 wasn’t just 10 years away, it felt like it was a million years away. There were so many uncertainties, and no one knew what to expect. I had never started a church, let alone pastored a church on my own. None of the people from Church of the Open Door who came with the plant had ever done a church plant before either. We knew that our sending church was a safety net for us, but that was just a temporary thing. What would happen in the long run was anybody’s guess. Now that is not to say there weren’t high hopes because there were plenty of those. New things often come front loaded with excitement. Could this become the fastest-growing church in Leavenworth County? Maybe, but it soon became pretty clear that this new church would be a typical ministry.
Typical means that not only is growth slow, it is also difficult. This was due of course to the typical realities: people are sinners, resources are scarce, skill sets aren’t available, people leave for good reasons and other people leave for bad reasons. We experienced all of this as most churches do. So how does a church deal with these realities?
One of my favorite ministry quotes says, “It is hard to stop a slow moving train.” When a train is moving fast, there is so much inertia that a bump in the tracks can derail things quickly. But slowness means gravity is working for you and not against you. A slow growing church has the gravity of Word-directed, Spirit-wrought Gospel change. Things are moving slowly enough that fervent prayer can be lifted, the Word can be studied and applied, and the internal work of the Spirit can germinate and come forth. This is not to say that this kind of gravity can’t operate in a fast-growing church. Praise God it can. But our desire from the start was for Word-directed, Spirit-wrought Gospel change whether it came fast or slow.
Therefore, what I am thankful for over the course of 10 years is that God has, really and truly, grown our church in Gospel growth. We have seen people born again and families changed by the Gospel. We have seen people grow in greater commitment to one another because they love the church, a love that is the creation of Gospel unity. We have seen our body come to a clearer and more consistent understanding of what the church is and how it operates as an outpost of the kingdom, separate and distinct from a fallen world. We have even seen our numbers grow as people come wanting to hear the gospel preached verse-by-verse through the Bible, and ministered to each other in true, discipling, one-another ministry. God be praised for this. We have planted and watered, but God has given the growth (1 Cor. 3:6). We have worked hard but it was grace working in us (1 Cor. 15:10). Whether fast or slow, may the Word continue to go forth for the exalting of the good news of Jesus Christ!
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