What can a church planter learn from a duck?
1. These ducks are not the brightest. They lay their eggs in all sorts of inappropriate places and they are usually broken open by other birds almost immediately. Sometimes the eggs are not fertilized and sometimes they’re cracked. I cannot protect them all the time, and I cannot make the eggs hatch.
When they do choose a somewhat hidden spot to lay their eggs, we inevitably find the nest destroyed by a predator. Unless I’m willing to stay up all night for 28 days, there’s nothing I can do about it; or, the duck gets killed while sitting on the nest.
2. They have a creek and a large pond in which to swim and feed, but they still cross the street looking for more food. I’ve gone after them many times, trying to prevent them from getting killed by passing cars, to no avail. Most times cars watch out for them, but over the years we have lost quite a few.
3. When we buy new ducks, to replenish the flock, I’ve noticed that they will not mix with the old ones; they remain separate.
4. They’re constantly bickering over food and mating.
5. They are very, very wary and are always on the alert for predators: foxes, coyotes, stray dogs, hawks and snapping turtles, etc.
6. Sometimes they come running from all around the pond when I feed them; other times they ignore me.
These ducks are a lot like a new congregation. You can feed them, give them a great environment and pray fervently for them, but you can’t make them reproduce. You can’t make them grow. You can’t make them stay. You can’t make them stop quacking!
After almost 40 years in the ministry, six new church plants and two replants, I can tell you that we’ve done the same approach: spiritually feeding and tending the flock in every place. Some of the churches have grown beyond belief and some haven’t.
If you are in the place where God has chosen to bless, praise God. If, however, you’re doing all you can do and your results are poor, remember Habakkuk 3:17-19:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”
When David’s family was in Ziklag and he was away on military maneuvers, the enemy captured and burned his home and took all the women and children captive. David wept till there was no more in him. His once loyal men even spoke of stoning him. David’s first impulse should be ours in a moment of trial. 1 Samuel 30:6 says, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord.” Eventually God restored it all, but in that dark moment there was nothing else he could do.
God knows where you are. Be faithful and strengthen yourself in the Lord.
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