Yesterday I was at Little Hill Church in Leicester, a church of about 70 people, preaching both morning and evening. I was a little concerned to be a way from Solihull Presbyterian, but this had been arranged some months ago. I have been a few times now and it is a joy to go there.
In the evening I was asked to explain what my current situation is. Little Hill has been so supportive and encouraging to me in my ministry and they are always asking what they can pray for. Of course my concern was that we at SPC faithfully preach the gospel and find ways of sharing it with others. We want to see people become Christians an find true redemption. We want to see growth. However, the main thing that has been on my mind is sanctification.
I remember not so long ago listening to an mp3 of a church planter in the US speaking about his experiences of planting and commenting on other church planters. He said an arresting thing (I paraphrase): “Sometimes I think church planters are just not scared enough.” Scared? That’s not an adjective I would have used! I think what he was getting at was that to many people go into church planting fired up for the gospel and all that, but secretly resting on their own skills, gifts and abilities. You know, “If I can get to do xyz, then abc should happen.” The public face is one of trust and faith in God, privately it is trust and faith in self. That struck a chord. And when this speaker said planters are jus not scared enough, he meant that they had not got to the end of their own rope and found that there is nothing left to hang on to but God himself.
There is fear there. I like my rope. It’s comfortable.
On Friday I was reading William Perkins’ The Art of Prophecying. I found this paragraph:
To prevent [being puffed up with self-conceit], God in his mercy has planned that all true ministers will by some means or other be humbled and emptied themselves. They will be driven to such fear and amazement at the sight of their own wickedness, that they will throw themselves down at Christ’s feet, and deny themselves wholly, acknowledging that anything they are they are only in him, and rely and trust only on his grace and help (pp. 128-9)
Is Perkins right? It seems right to me. As heralds of the gospel of the King, we must not intrude on the message. This implies a humbling process for the minister of church-planter in order for there to be clarity in proclamation.
So my prayer request was for sanctification for us at SPC.