As you are planning new and exciting ministries for the upcoming season, take a minute to reflect on an important lesson Bill Hybels writes about in Axiom. Here, he briefly tells of a season in which Willow wasn’t quite prepared for the dramatic growth God had in store. Have you done your part to prepare for God’s big plans for your ministry?
We were inundated by new people who came to check out the church, and to our horror, we didn’t have enough parking spaces to accommodate them. There were hundreds of cars stacked four-deep along our campus’s roads — both inbound and outbound. Nicely dressed adults trudged through fields of grass and mud to reach the front door. Children were thrust into already-overcrowded classrooms and asked to sit quietly in a stuffy space for a full ninety minutes. Talk about a systemic meltdown of dramatic proportions! To say we were embarrassed would be an understatement. It was awful. God had done his part. We just hadn’t done ours.
Our excitement over all that new growth was quickly tempered by the painful reality that we had dropped the ball. We had dropped a dozen balls. We had been so singularly focused on our plans to get new people into our church that we failed to provide necessary infrastructure in the event that all that planning actually bore fruit.
My hard-won advice? Have a bold plan for explosive growth! Expect God to answer your fervent prayers and to do his part in bringing people your way. Just be sure to tend to the needs that all that growth will bring. And at the very same time, roll up your sleeves and figure out how you are going to assimilate those new folks so that someday, every one of them will become fully yielded to Christ and fully integrated into your church.
Have you been surprised by a season of sudden growth? What did you learn? What do you do differently now?