I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance . . . ~ Revelation 2:2a
READING: Revelation 2
Several families in the core group of our second church plant had moved out en masse from a city about a hundred miles away to retire in Temecula. They really wanted us to recreate for them a clone of their beloved home church down to the tiniest detail like the format of our Sunday bulletin. We couldn’t. Temecula was a different place. It wasn’t possible to transplant that exact church. As our church grew, new people came and totally changed the group dynamic.
I confess Jim and I have hoped a time or two to clone successful projects, or wished, by religiously following the advice of some expert or other, to clone their model. It didn’t happen. In fact, although Jim and I were the common denominator in all four of our church plants, each congregation developed an entirely different personality. Strategies that worked great in one church fell flat in the next and vice versa.
That’s the nature of groups. Every class at school develops its own identity; ask any teacher. Even two fifth-grade classes at the same school will differ from each other.
It’s always struck me, when reading Revelation 2 and 3, how different those seven churches were, even though they’d been planted around the same time, all within 150 miles of each other. Jesus knew each one, uniquely and specifically.
We do well, as under-shepherds, to leave our pre-conceived ideas about people at the door and discover the unique personality, struggles and giftedness of each new group. May we value the distinctive redemptive gifting of each congregation and strive to help each church bring glory to God.
Dear Lord, I love that my church family, with all our quirky personalities and challenges, is known to You. Have mercy on us all and help us serve You well. Amen.
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