This Sunday morning I find myself reflecting on the joys and sorrows of doing life inside the local church. Specifically my local church, Cityview Bible Church, over the last 8.5 years. Being heavily involved in any kind community has its shares of ups and downs because we are most vulnerble to pain when we allow ourselves to care deeply about other people. All the risks considered, I still believe that commitment to a local church is one of the most important contributors to long-term spiritual growth. As I think about our church family this morning, here’s what I’m grateful for:
1- Their passion for God. Our congregation loves to worship, loves to pray, and loves to serve God. I am constantly challenged by their ongoing fire for God’s glory above all else. When I lose my focus or my passion, the people of Cityview remind me what is really important: we are here for God.
2- Their service of one another motivated by love. I often say that I’m not sure where people turn for support and help when they are not connected to a local church. Because I have seen the people of Cityview serve one another through the most difficult of circumstances. As Barie and I have been through deep waters this year, we have experieneced the love of the local church in a whole new way.
3- The spiritually mature leaders. The strength of any church is not really built on the communication gift of the pastor or the musical ability of the worship leader. It is built on the spiritual health of the lay leaders in the church – the elders, the small group leaders, the ministry leaders. I am continually encouraged by the spiritual maturity of our leaders. I love serving with our elders, and I love watching the ministry leaders at Cityview use their gifts in such amazing ways.
4- Their patience with me. I was 28 when we planted our church and in hindsight, a very immature pastor. But our association and our elders were willing to take a risk on my leadership and to help mentor me along the way. Now, at 36, I am exceedingly grateful for the patience of our congregation as they have given me room to grow in the Lord and learn how to be a pastor.
5- Their generosity toward our mission. I don’t even have words to describe how amazed I am that people invest the amount of time, money, and energy in our mission that they do. When we say that we are committed to reaching every man, woman, and child in Greater Austin with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ, we mean it. And our people are so supportive in seeing that become a reality.
6- Their grace toward one another. I think one of the true marks of the people of Jesus is their ability to forgive one another and extend grace to each other. Our church is a grace-filled environment. I am so thankful to lead a church that is willing to press into the hard conflicts of life together and at the same time extend grace and mercy to each other.
I love the people of Cityview Bible Church. They are truly our extended family, and they have walked with us through so much over the last 8.5 years. I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for us in the years ahead.