Now, after writing on why we switched, I’ve received a lot of emails from folks saying how their church decided to switch after reading my post. Wonderful. And then the other emails asking, “How can we gain support from other leaders? How should we present it to the church? Any issues you’ve seen?” Great questions. So, let’s go into the logistics of such a move.
Disappointment often reveals what captures our affections. Even though the disappointment is not always wrong, it does give us a gauge that shows us where we have invested our hope. Lamenting through our discontentment forces us to carry those desires back to God — even if just to question why he hasn’t given these things to us. It sheds light on the idols we have created in our lives. Through the grief, we dig up our biggest frustrations and unleash our rawest emotions. Grief graciously draws us in to wrestle with God in every wound and disappointment.
Though I sometimes wrestle with what text to preach, I never wrestle with how to preach it. I determined long ago for every sermon to be an expository one. For me, biblical preaching is expository preaching, and expository preaching is biblical preaching. Let me explain why.
Many people have a secret fear about heaven: It sounds boring to them—like an eternal choir practice, where we prance about in diapers, playing a harp and listening to Morgan Freeman read the dictionary all day. And to some people, that sounds more like hell than heaven.
My dark journey began with a phone call. The voice was calm, but the words hit like an avalanche, throwing me into a state of shock and despair. My oldest daughter was dead. Her five-year struggle with drug addiction, one that had robbed her of so much, had taken her life.
The news took my breath away.
There are times when pastors and members of small churches can feel discouraged when they look at their numbers. The people of God long to see their churches full of souls who are being saved and shepherded. It is tempting to look online at your favorite preacher’s church and see scores of people who pour into his church’s services. Our culture is consumed with results and numbers as a way of validation. There are many small time pastors who are faithful to preach the gospel and in a moment of despair ask, “Why are our pews empty? Does God not bless faithful preaching?”
A favorite from the archives:
It was the summer of 2009, and I was on the way to England to meet with some of my colleagues in the UK office of the charity I work for. And I was excited: I had never been to England (beyond a brief stop in Heathrow the year prior). My father is a British citizen, having immigrated to Canada when he was a child. Beyond the work aspect, this trip was an opportunity for me to get in touch with my roots.
But it also came at a pretty tumultuous time in my life. A few months prior to leaving, we’d lost a baby to a miscarriage, and I nearly lost Emily in the process, as well (severe complications). We were experiencing major financial strain, we were dealing with some relational tension with extended family, and I was completely overwhelmed with my work schedule. There were many days when I wished I could just sleep for 100 hours.