At the age of 27, I became the 32nd pastor of a 72-yr.-old church. In the 8 years prior to my arrival, the church had split 3 times, attendance dropped from 850 to 120, and the church went through 4 pastors – I became number 5 in 1984.
As the church board and I began to pray together, the Lord gave us clear leadership for the management & resolution of potentially destructive tensions in the church. Instead of denying or avoiding these tensions, we were led to turn them into creative tensions, using them to tune our hearts to hear what HE was doing.
He led us, first, to focus on creating the environment of love, acceptance, & forgiveness that He commands in John 13:34,35. He made it CLEAR to us that THIS must be our highest priority next to loving Him with all our hearts – that we love each other AS HE LOVES EACH OF US.
Because He commands it, and because this alone is how the world will know we belong to Him. Not our church buildings, name, money, size, or programs. Not the Bible version we use, or which songs we sing. Simply, and solely, to love each other as He loves us.
Today, we know we need each other desperately to fulfill His mission of making disciples. We intentionally work to create a caring culture where tension is ok, and interpersonal conflicts are welcomed and “mined” for creative opportunities to BE the church, instead of just doing church. Our aim is to truly be His Spirit Expressed, starting with each other, then into the world around us.
That culture allows us to minister to over 500 people weekly on our campus — including lively Sunday services, various Life Groups on Sundays and Wednesdays, vibrant middle & high school ministries, and other age-appropriate ministries that teach believers they are saved to serve, using their gifts for the King. We also provide a fully accredited Ministry & Bible College on site (www.sum.edu), and support 40+ missionaries worldwide.
For more information on Clear Leadership Resources, please visit http://www.clearleadershipresources.com