Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest . . . – Matthew 9:38 (ESV)
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. – I Corinthians 3:6 (ESV)
READING: Acts 16:6-10
John planted a great church in California. Starting with no core group, he was tireless in prayer and personal evangelism, and within a few years the new congregation was close to 1,000 in attendance. Many hundreds of people came to faith in Christ through the efforts of John’s new church.
He stayed and pastored that church for 15 years. Then he sensed God’s call to start another church. He moved to a nearby city to establish another congregation. His second plant was also a fine church, but its attendance never exceeded 200. Though people were saved, the number was noticeably smaller than in his first church.
What made the difference? John worked and prayed just as hard in both places. The communities were very similar, and John was a good fit as a leader in both. If anything, John might have expected to plant a larger church because he was a wiser and more experienced church planter the second time.
The truth is that the harvest is up to the Lord. That’s why Jesus called him “Lord of the harvest.” As Paul said, we labor, but it is God who gives the growth. That’s why the Holy Spirit forbade Paul’s church planting team to speak the word in one region, and they weren’t allowed to go to another. Instead, the Sovereign Lord of the Harvest sent a call to a brand-new region through the Macedonian vision.
Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean God’s blessing. Church planting demands prayer, hard work and careful assessment of leaders and community. But in the end the harvest is the Lord’s.
Lord of the Harvest, Grant me persistence and effectiveness. I trust You to give the growth as You see fit. Amen.
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