Although I am still thinking about much of what I read in Sensing Jesus, I had a few initial thoughts I wanted to write down. Actually as soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it back up and start over. There is just so much good stuff there I couldn't take it all in during one read. (I briefly posted about how much I enjoyed this book a few weeks ago, but didn't really get into any details about why. The book was written by one of my favorite seminary professors who is now pastoring a church.)
One of the bigger themes the book talks about is how pastors shouldn't begrudge small ministries. I had sort of always thought that when we left Liberty Springs, we would go somewhere... bigger. Somewhere God could really use Jeff, where he could do something important.
I was convicted, though, because my thinking that was basically a judgment on where Jeff has been ministering for the last 5 years. As if bigger is better. That small country churches are somehow less important than larger suburban ones. Dr. Eswine challenges pastors (and the rest of us, really) to realize that we may never be called to "successful" ministries or kingdom tasks. We may never publish a ministry-related book that everyone wants to read or lead a ministry that everyone talks about or wants to be a part of. This is not to say that we should be lazy, but only that in ministry (and in the rest of life) God uses the small things, the unimportant things, to shame the worldly and strong.
Although our church isn't much bigger than it was when we started, I think I can safely say that God has really used Jeff's time here. People have changed. God has used Jeff to give our church a better understanding of what the Gospel of Christ means. He has given ME a better understand of what the gospel is.
No one would look to our church as an example of numeric church growth, but that is ok. The people of Cross Hill are created in the image of God and are just as important as those who live somewhere like New York, and Jeff's ministry in Small Town, SC is just as important as ministry to those who live in Big City, USA.
So now when I think about where we might be next, I am excited about wherever God has called us, whether it's to a small church, or a bigger one - a little town or the big city. We want to be where God has called us.