On Sunday, The Grove Church celebrated two years as a church. What started out as 17 adults and 19 kids in our living room on a Sunday evening in 2014 has blossomed into what we saw on Sunday: an average of about 90 adults, 25 students, and 35 kids. I just ran into someone at Starbucks who visited us recently who simply summed up her observation of The Grove: God has blessed The Grove tremendously. I couldn’t agree more! God has been so gracious to grow us, both numerically and spiritually.
At the end of our lunch on Sunday, I asked two questions. First, I asked who had come to know Jesus Christ during this last year. One person raised his hand (thanks, Tim!). Though that would cause some people to get discouraged, I knew who had come to know Jesus during this last year, so I was not surprised by the result. Instead, I asked that question to setup my second question: who has taken some steps in their growth to reach out to their neighbor? Almost every hand in the room went up. Yes! We may not be this huge group of people that have all of a sudden become experts in evangelism or seen God save everyone with whom we share the Gospel. No, instead, we remain in pursuit of Jesus and pray in hope that God will reward our intentionality with our neighbors. We’ll join God in being patient, desiring all men to repent and come to faith in Jesus.
But what if we aren’t patient? What if we simply give up? My wife and I celebrated 13 years of marriage yesterday. Most people say this, but we actually mean it: this year has been the best year so far. But what if we gave up at year 8, 9, or 10? What if we simply said, “This isn’t working out like I wanted, so I’m pulling the plug.” We would have missed out on the celebration that we’ve been enjoying for months now and would have missed out on what is yet to come.
The same can be said for our church. While Tim was the only one who raised his hand on Sunday, what most people don’t know is that I asked the same question last year and no one willingly raised their hand. Not one person. So what if we would have quit last year? Surely God would have found other ways for Tim to come to faith, but we would have missed out. We would have missed on witnessing truly the most amazing sight this side of heaven: someone cross over from death to life. Not only would we have missed out, but Tim may have had a longer route to repentance and faith in the gospel. And what a travesty that would have been.
So, looking into year three, let us be a people that are buoyed in hope that God is working out His pleasing and perfect will, in His perfect timing, to draw all people to Himself. Let’s also lock arms not growing weary in doing good. And what is that good @ The Grove? This beautiful people that is known as The Grove Church was started to invite all people to follow Jesus in all of life. Just as Jesus invited people on the way to his destination, at the marketplace, at the local watering hole, and in various cities and neighborhoods, let’s also continue to invite people to know and see the true Jesus. Let’s pursue being people who steward our time, talent, treasure, and truth well. Let’s pursue finding and being trusted friends. Let’s continue our pursuit of being ambassadors for the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of our own comfort. Let’s find our sufficiency in Jesus as we run to Him for rest and abide in Him. And as we do these tings, living distinctive lives for the glory of Jesus, our neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends will wonder and be drawn into the grand invitation. And when they get drawn, let’s be ready not just to invite them to a church where there are other sojourners there, passing through this place and headed to a better destination, but more importantly ready to invite them to Christ Himself.
That is a big task, and a big dream: that we would be a people that are not just willing, but ready and equipped to invite others to Jesus. But isn’t that the point? That we would have a vision that is far bigger than we could accomplish on our own? That we have something hidden in our heart so grand that only God could accomplish? And as a result, the cynics amongst us will ask, “What if you don’t succeed?” and I will respond, “What if we never try?”
Let’s see how the Lord responds to this small band of brothers and sisters in their pursuit of Jesus of Nazareth and His grand mission for the world. No matter what happens, it’s sure to be fun.
On to year three!
Lance Williams, Lead Pastor