I killed my church with a rock. A tiny little rock with a lot of power. Like David standing before Goliath, I threw it as hard as I could against the church building.
It all began with discouragement.
We have a church that sits 300 people, but our services average about thirty. There is, of course, a history to how the church got here, but that is a different story. Often times, the smaller the church the harder ministry gets. Even in small churches there is gossip, manipulation, and broken relationships. In small churches, you get right in the middle of it all whether you want to or not.
So it’s hard when you have to confront people, or when you have to say no, or when you feel like you are doing it all alone.
This last summer – for the second time in two years – I was ready to walk away.
“There is a reason the last two pastors have not lasted longer than eighteen months,” I said. “Let’s go to a church where people appreciate our gifts and talents and where we actually get to work with a team.”
“God called me here, and I’ll be faithful, even if it’s hard.” My husband said.
“This church is dead.” I said.
“God can bring life back.” He said.
My husband was – in his own words -waiting on God. I was done waiting.
Then I won a scholarship for a writer’s mentoring retreat thanks to Shelly Beach. I drove for eight hours all the way to Michigan so I could sit and learn under great and recognized writers. My husband supported me. He is my biggest writing fan, he believes in me 100% He keeps his end of the bargain, always.
On the second and last day of the retreat, Dawn Scott Jones was asked to give a devotional. Funny how pastors always get asked to pray or lead devotions. Her devotional was very un-writerly. She referenced this passage:
God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”
God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
Ezekiel 37:1-10 The Message
And sometimes you hear from God in the most unexpected of places.
Why do you keep speaking death unto my church? Declare life! For I can breathe life back!
I swallowed hard, tears brimming in my eyes. Okay Lord, I will speak life.
That night, we finished our writer’s retreat listening to James Watkins. If someone knows how to use humor, it is him! He wanted to send us writers back home with dreams to keep at it, to keep writing. He talked about David and Goliath. Goliath was too big to miss. Then he gave us all a little rock, he said, “Carry it in your pocket, as a reminder, and maybe this has nothing to do with writing for you”
And through laughs and a great speech for writers, God impressed a great truth in my heart right then.
Whatever hurts, bitterness, discord, or broken relationships have been present at church, I can take care of it. I’m too big, I don’t miss. I heal.
So I got into my car at the end of the conference, and before coming home I bawled and asked God to forgive me for my unbelief. He took me all the way to Michigan so he could speak to me. If ever I doubted that God meant for us to be in this little church, the doubt was gone.
Sunday morning after church I stood outside facing the building. I told my husband I had one thing I needed to do.
I reached into my pocket to grab the rock and held it in my hand real tight.
I thought about the bitterness, the broken relationships, the hurt, the manipulation, the loneliness of the church, my own doubt, my unbelief, my sin; the dead bones.
And I threw that rock as hard as I could, a symbol of killing the giant that has been keeping God from breathing life into this place.
And I prayed, “Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on us. Breathe life!”
And I believe He is.