My home church, Calvary Fellowship, announced today that we must sell our building. Our finances haven’t been growing much at all over the past couple of years and it has dried up our savings. To the outside community, this makes Calvary Fellowship look like a dying church – that we’re falling apart beyond what anyone can repair. But the way we see things is rarely the way God sees things.
A story that first came to mind when Danny announced to the board members the sad news was Gideon’s conquering of the Midianites in Judges 7. In case you aren’t familiar with the story, Gideon was called to lead the Israelites into battle, but God did something ridiculous: He cut down the fighting numbers from 22,000 to 300 and armed them with horns and torches.
We would never do something like this in our day. It’s like taking your 3 golfing buddies to play a baseball game against the New York Yankees; you’d get slaughtered (metaphorically – literally in Gideon’s case). But, as always, God knew what he was doing with Gideon and His people.
Through Gideon, God was not writing a story of Israel’s conquest over all its enemies; He was writing a story of what He can do with just a few faithful followers.
Our modern-day evangelical community considers a “thriving church” to be something close to a mega-church; a fancy big building, thousands of members, 3 or 4 services each Sunday, and drinking fountains flowing with fruit punch. By that picture, we are far from being a “thriving church.” And in a like manner, Gideon’s army was far from being a formidable opponent.
And yet, as I’m sure we’re all aware of, Israel’s enemies fled the battlefield when Gideon led the march. 300 horns were blown and 300 torches lit – sending the thousands of Midianites against themselves and away from the Israelites. This story is proof that when God renovates His building – the congregation of people – big things happen.
No, I’m not predicting that God is going to conquer all our enemies with the 150 or so people we have at Calvary (I’m not even sure what that would look like anyway). But I am saying that by selling our building and possibly changing locations, Calvary Fellowship is actually growing. No, our numbers aren’t reaching the thousands and our finances aren’t generating millions. Instead, our fellowship, with God’s renovations, is becoming a closer-knit body – knowing, trusting, and loving each other to greater and greater degrees. God is developing through Calvary a family with a much stronger and more Christ-like faith.
If the thought of losing this building scares you, then I must say Gideon was scared, too. If you want to leave here and try another church, then I must say Gideon wanted to quit, too. And if you think that Calvary Fellowship is a church marching to its doom, then I must again say Gideon believed that, too. And yet, he stuck with God and saw Him prevail.
God told Gideon that the Israelite army was too big. Now I’m not saying we’ve reached our capacity on this building because, quite clearly, that’s not the case. What I am saying, though, is that we are still a growing fellowship and maybe God is telling us that a smaller (and more affordable) building is a better suit for us. Maybe, in a spiritual sense, we actually have outgrown this building.
May we not make the mistake of giving up before God proves, once again, that He was right and we found out the hard way.