This weekend I sat at home after services with a big grin on my face. I was truly satisfied. My heart was overwhelmed. I was the beneficiary of dream fulfillment. It was incredible.
What dream am I talking about?
Simple: The dream of leading a church where we regularly saw people who were saved at our church and then baptized at our church. This past weekend, we had a 100% success rate on that simple statistic. And yes, Waters Church counts this stuff (and far more).
Why is this my dream? Because when this church first began we grew mostly through “transfer church growth”. That means people from other Gospel-preaching churches came to our church BECAUSE we weren’t their old church. Whether the Pastor had changed something that offended them or the church had a split, or people simply got bored with their old church, the message was consistently sent to our church: “We are here because you aren’t them.” And that was the most frustrating part of the early days at Waters Church in North Attleboro.
I still remember Easter 2005. The Church was packed. I preached the Gospel. I asked for a response to Christ. Zero people came to Christ. I wondered what was wrong. I questioned my own calling. I began to lose hope for New England thinking that perhaps it was pointless to try to reach new people in this area. Thankfully, God intervened and over time He brought me (and others) to realize the only people we were attracting to our church was people from other churches.
I hated church like that.
Years later, we have a church filled with people who are saved here, baptized here, growing here and leading here. We just hired Chris as our Director of Pastoral Care who was saved, baptized and developed at our Church for the past 5 years. It is absolutely incredible to watch that happen.
So what made the difference? In a Name – God. In a longer explanation – many things. First, God led us to visit some dynamic churches around the country who were reaching the unchurched and we learned all we could from them. Second, God emblazoned upon our hearts the Gospel message more deeply than ever before. We came to understand that Christ who was closest to the Father in heaven from Eternity past, is the One who left heaven to go after those furthest from the Father on Earth! It was also a LOT of prayer. Come to any first Wednesday prayer time and you’ll see most of the time we spend praying to see the spiritually disconnected get connected here. Finally, God began to raise up leaders in our church who loved those far from Him. They became dynamic, humble and grateful pioneers for where God was bringing us together as a Church. I will never forget their contribution.
In the end, all the credit goes to God and today I’m thankful for the staff, elders and key leaders who get this mantra and passionately represent it: We are here for those who are not yet here (not yet Christian).
We are not done. Not by any means. But I’m thankful that dreams can come true. This weekend was visible proof. And I’m still dreaming for more.