When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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Counting the Joy

August 02, 2020

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? How do you make decisions when you’re not sure where you want to end up? How do you lead with confidence when you’re just as uncertain as the people you’re leading? How do you stand firm when the traditions and methods you’ve used for years seem to be eroding?

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Trials are guaranteed and difficulties are expected. As James says, it’s “when you meet trials” not “if you meet trials.” Many of us in leadership feel the weight of many trials right now. Past experience didn’t prepare us. Seminary didn’t provide us with emergency response protocols for what we’re going through. Those with a history in the church can’t rely on institutional knowledge to guide us into the future. Even “experts” don’t agree on the best response!

What if we, like James, learn to count it ALL joy? Even if you don’t know where your congregation will be at this end of this season, do you know where you hope to be personally? Maybe we are called to think less of the institution and more about growth toward Christian perfection? Let’s spend some time counting all the joys:
  1. Freedom: We are no longer bound by the traditions of the past and can worship God in new ways that help us experience His character and nature anew. The church can be the church without a building.
  2. Awakening: Believers are being awakened to a hunger for His Spirit and a renewed passion for worship.
  3. Opportunity: There is an opportunity to move the Gospel into new spaces and places – into homes, parks, and onto Internet platforms like never before.
  4. Dependence: Leaders must admit their need for help and depend on God for guidance.
  5. Surrender: There is joy in letting go of the pressure and expectation of knowing and submitting to God’s all-knowing guidance.
  6. Growth: We are experiencing a pruning of programs and ministries we once determined essential to spiritual growth. We are discovering spiritual growth happens in a variety of ways, some of which might be more effective than the way we have done things in the past.
  7. Priorities: All of a sudden many things that seemed to matter a great deal no longer seem very important. We have had a perspective shift that only comes when what is nonessential is stripped away and we are left with what is most essential.
It’s hard to find joy in the trials. But when faith in God is all you have left, you’re in right place. At the end of yourself is where you experience the love, grace, and fullness of God. Count the joys, friends, so that in your steadfastness you will be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Jay Hanson, Lead Pastor, and Anne Bosarge, Multi-Campus Director, serve at The Chapel Ministries. They love sharing about the ways God is moving in their church. Contact them at jay@thechapelministries.com and anne@thechapelministries.com.

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