Transforming communities with the love of God

20 years, 20 lessons...

Helen and I step into a 3rd decade of leading this amazing church family today, and after 20 years we’re pausing, taking stock and sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned through many joys, breakthroughs and miracles, 10.5 million minutes of leadership, 1000 Sundays, 1500 sermons and countless mistakes... here's some stuff we've started learning thus far:

  1. 20 1cNothing compares to knowing, experiencing and living in the timeless, unfailing, perfect, gracious love of God in Christ. His love changes lives, heals hearts, restores hope and transforms communities.
  2. On 1st November 1998 we sensed Jesus himself offering his hand of leadership, to take hold of the mantle of ministry here, and to follow His lead. Though we’ve stumbled and fallen, grown weary at times and other times tried to rush ahead of Him, He has never let go of us.
  3. Leaders don’t build the Church, God does — and however important the leaders’ role may be, it is His leadership (and our followership) that matters.
  4. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can really change people’s hearts, and He does His best work when He’s invited in with humility and welcomed in to rearrange things.
  5. We have disappointed many people, failed to meet their expectations (and so often failed to meet our own)… The grace of Christ is always enough for those who accept it. (If you’re one of the disappointed, thank you when you’ve extending grace)
  6. We have been disappointed by others aplenty, even let down by those who have led us, and again the grace of Jesus is all we need to keep our hearts soft and faith refuelled. God’s mercy is new this morning.
  7. God has not given up on any of us, He has not overlooked our communities (even Watford!) and He is at work in powerful and mysterious ways, often behind the scenes. 
  8. One of the best things we ever did was say ‘yes’ to the adventure of overseas mission. Over 30 countries later, our hearts still pound with God’s love for all nations.
  9. Loyalty is a rare quality, and we are surrounded by faithful, loving, patient friends in our church family who have given time, talents and treasure year after year in pursuit of our common vision. We are profoundly grateful for them all. (If you’re one of the many faithful, thank you!)
  10. Vision statements don’t make things happen, but when God says what He wants to do He gives faith to see the impossible made possible. And His vision for His people is ever-expanding, we couldn’t cope if He revealed it all at once.
  11. Values statements don’t make a difference until leaders model what they stand for, and a whole Church chooses to live ‘above the line’ of mediocre selfishness.
  12. Our timescales are rarely realistic; God’s timing is always perfect.
  13. The fastest-growing plants are the weeds, not the fruit trees; sometimes the best fruit grows on the slowest-growing trees. Maturity takes time.
  14. God is the best team-builder on the planet, and He’ll move people across towns, nations and even oceans to bring the people He wants to the team. His recruitment process is better than ours.
  15. It’s a messy business washing feet, but Jesus showed us that’s how leaders serve. We do our best work when we follow His example, more often not on a platform but on our knees.
  16. People make promises and break them. Both are too easy to do, and faithfulness is rarer than pride. Unity takes humility and effort to keep.
  17. The Word of God is infinitely powerful when ignited in minds and hearts by the power of God’s Spirit. This is always a wonder, and can change lives and families in a moment (or over many years!).
  18. Miracles are reality, gold teeth can appear from nowhere! Cancers shrink and disappear, demons and diseases flee in Jesus’ name... sometimes (I wish always). Our hunger for more breakthroughs has not been extinguished.
  19. Where God guides, He provides – even hundreds of thousands of pounds to build a new Church Centre… nothing breaks His budget. Most often His means of supply is our cheerful sacrifice.
  20. Leaders like us are too frail to succeed, too weak to win and too inadequate to overcome but it doesn’t matter – Jesus is our victory and in His name (united with His people) we can face the future with faith. So we will.

- Tim Roberts
(opinions my own)