When The Bridge made the decision to move to 5 services, the elders of The Bridge graciously said, “Josh, if we’re going to do this, you need to take a few weeks in the summer to rest from preaching, pray, and plan.” I’m nearing the end of that planning intensive right now and three prayers for our church body are rising in my spirit…
1. Something new is stirring, and I’m praying for clarity. This paragraph has haunted me from JD Greear, a pastor-mentor of mine, about a church being led by the Holy Spirit…
“Has the Spirit of God generated in you holy ambitions in ministry that function something like the arrow of a compass, pointing you to God’s ‘true north’ for you? Do you know your specific role in his kingdom? You see, that’s a major component of his leadership: He shows us what part of the mission belongs to us specifically and assigns to us our unique role in his kingdom… That’s when Christianity explodes. I have seen this kind of ‘explosion’ happen in the church I pastor. It came when we realized there were specific aspects of the mission the Spirit of God was calling us to give ourselves more fully to.”
We can’t even quite articulate it yet, but there’s a growing sense that is what’s happening in our church right now around God’s heart for the orphan and fatherless. A groundswell of adoption and foster care are happening in our church THAT WE DIDN’T PLAN (see HERE), and we increasingly feel an almost primal cry arising from The Spirit within our people for there to be “No more fatherless!” I’m praying for clarity.
2. The Path Forward. For perspective on why this is a burden of prayer for me, in just the last year, we’ve…
- Grown by ~700 people
- Moved from 3 services to 5
- Onboarded ~10 new staff
- Added and restructured a team new of elders
- Seen over 230 people give their lives to Christ
- Over 3,300 people attended our Easter services
- Laid the financial and leadership groundwork for our Columbia Campus
Two things are leading me to make “A clear path forward” a prayer: 1) although I’m not burning out or deteriorating personally, I’m realizing I can’t preach 5 services forever; and 2) at the rate God is drawing people to himself in our midst, by August we’ll already have maxed out our attendance capacity. God gave us a promise that all we had to do was “ask, and I will give the nations to you.” For years we’ve been asking him to give us Nashville and he’s doing it, so I’m asking he shows us the next step in allowing that to happen.
3. A recovery of our first love. The next season is truly the beginning of a new chapter for The Bridge: multiplication. As we move to plant our Columbia Campus, the question I’m asking is, “Can we be a church that isn’t content to simply GROW, but GO?” If we can’t, the only explanation is that we’ve lost our first love. As JD Greear has pointed out, spiritual fruit happens in the same way physical fruit happens. When a man and women conceive physical “fruit” (i.e. a child), they’re not usually thinking about the mechanics of making that child. Rather, they get caught up in a moment of loving intimacy with each other, and the fruit of that intimacy is a child.
In the same way, if our church is swept up in loving intimacy with Jesus we will have NO PROBLEM birthing the spiritual fruit of a new church in Columbia. I’m praying for a fresh, passionate, childlike love for Christ to sweep through our church.