Over the past year, the church I pastor has been through a lot of transition. That is putting it lightly. City Church and Mt. Zion Fellowship have merged and we are now called “Bridgeway Church.”
God told me to be a bridge between the Spirit and the Word. He wanted me to lead a church into a passion for His word and the works of His Spirit. We want to be “Naturally Supernatural.”
I got so excited when God started giving me clarity on what He was calling this team to do here at Bridgeway. Clarity breeds confidence and I could sense more and more confidence as His vision became clear. The Promised Land always becomes visible as we walk and I can say that this has definitely been the case for this Bridgeway team and I.
I should have picked up on it earlier, but I had no idea that the vision over this house would bring criticism from both sides of the fence. I think I was naïve and just figured that everyone would be excited about what God was showing the team and I. As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast, my friend.”
I’ve had many people on the charismatic side of things say that we are playing it safe here. People have expressed to me that I am not “open to all the things of God.” I’ve even been told that I am more interested in running a business than I am with being open to the Spirit of God. On the other side of the issue, I was told during the exact same time frame that I needed to be careful that I was not venturing out into dangerous theological territory. I was told in quite a few emails that I was getting “out of whack in my doctrine and methodology.” I even had someone I know well ask me if I had anyone speaking into my life because of my stance on the Holy Spirit and also my view on women in leadership at Bridgeway. He meant well and I don’t judge him in the least for wondering if I’m on some island losing my mind on this God journey. I had a good laugh with it because it’s simply a reminder of how many paradigms we all have.
It’s been a great learning season for me knowing that what God is calling me to is actually bringing criticism from both the Word and Spirit streams. Bridgeway has been called out by Charismatics and non-Charismatics.
I’ve asked God throughout this season, “What are you trying to teach me? I’m listening.” His answer has been easy to hear but harder to walk out. He continues to ask me, “Are you willing to go alone, if need be, in order to be obedient to my call on your life?”
I think it is in these seasons of testing where God completely starves out the fear of man in us. That is, if we pass the test in the first place. Have you been there yet? Have you been to the place where you can look in the mirror and honestly care more about what God says about you and your calling, than the people around you? It’s a great day when that fear of man falls off. I think for most of us, it comes in stages. Just like in our faith, we grow to the place where we love deeply those who do not agree with us, but at the same time, remain obedient to our Father. Jesus is the most humble person I’ve ever read about and yet at the same time in John 6, he did not spend one ounce of time chasing after disciples who left Him because they did not agree with what He was teaching.
I used to think the enemy was involved in a lot of the interpersonal conflict Wendy and I walked through with other people. After being married 18 years and involved in ministry for all of those years, I am seeing that the Father is behind the conflict. God loves to test us to see how we will respond to some good solid pruning. He only prunes what He deems worthy of explosive growth. What seems hard and numbing is actually the catalyst for growth.
Are you willing to care more about what God says to you, than what the people around you say? Are you willing to be obedient to the very end on what He is saying you are to do? I want this to be me. I want to do this with grace and dignity. I may not have arrived, but at least I’ve left the station. Help me, Lord Jesus. I want to care more about my obedience to Him than pleasing people around me. I truly think it is possible to grow in love and obedience at the same time. It has to be. Come, Lord Jesus.