Our particular house church is made up of several new Christians, several not-yet-Christians, a few who have been Christians for many years but haven't matured that much, several teens and kids. We love our group and recognize the opportunity that God has given us to lead and nurture them. But there have been some struggles. People who are new to the faith have many years of living without faith under their belt. The transformation that occurs, unfortunately, isn't instantaneous. It requires day by day growing, seeking and experiencing God. Many don't have the patience it takes to deal with not-yet-Christians who think their worldly ideas are right. Family and marital struggles due to years of living without Christ, "lukewarm" attitudes from some who have been in a church for many years but are just now being asked to really BE a church - these are some of the struggles that we have been facing this year.
Sometimes you feel like giving up.
And then God comes along (actually He was there all the time) and gives you just what you need to go on. This happened to me yesterday as I(Benay) was going through the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby. This particular day the theme of the study was unity in the body and how the body should seek to discern God's will for their future. It is not the leader's job to determine God's will for the body and let the rest know. The body, as a whole, should seek God's will. Here is a list of questions that were asked:
1. Do you believe God wants the body to come to one heart and one mind on His will for the body?
2. Do you believe God is able to bring His people to understand His will?
3. Do you believe God is able to bring YOUR church to this kind of unity?
4. Would you be willing to wait on God until He has had time to adjust the members of the body to His will?
Of course the answer to each question should be "YES". But I have to admit that I struggled with questions 3 and 4. With my human eyes, it seems almost impossible that our church will ever reach the kind of unity described as "one heart and one mind". But do I believe that God can do this? Yes. And number 4 - am I willing to wait for God to do his work? Well, what if it takes a long time? What if I need to leave Brazil? What if..... But am I willing to wait? OK, Yes.
What did God tell me through this? I'm not in charge of our church. He is. This is not a sprint. It's a marathon. How long does spiritual formation take? Well, thinking of my own life, years - and He's still not done.
Another jewel from my Bible study was this verse that came right after the above questions:
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Romans 15:5-6
Never noticed before the inclusion of the words "endurance" and "encouragement". Never understood how that related to unity. But I do now.
I would ask you to pray for our churches and pray for us as we do what needs to be done day by day.