A couple of weeks ago, we were at a Scottish Leaders Conference in Glasgow and we were asked to share our story. How we came to be in Inverness, leading a Vineyard church (we still find it baffling!) and to encourage anyone who felt church planting might be part of their story to take the next step.
It was as we were preparing for this that God drew something out of our story which I want to share in this wee blog. And it’s never to underestimate the power of your yes. In our walks with Jesus and as a couple we made a commitment back in 2010 when I decided to leave my job as a financial adviser to become a youth pastor, to try and say yes to God more than we say no. And here we are. We have had seasons of amazing highs and God breakthroughs coupled with the tough walking through treacle, battle seasons. The two go hand in hand when we partake in work of Gods kingdom. But we wouldn’t change it for the world.
What I want to share in this blog is we all have a part to play in writing a new story for the church in Scotland. You might think you would never church plant, you might be right but you still have a part to play that is no less important. Our yes really does matter when it comes to the future of the church in Scotland. There will be a whole load of different people reading this, different stories, ages and stages, church backgrounds and dreams – we all have a part to play.
Zechariah 4:10 says “do not despise the day of small beginnings.”
We must not as followers of Jesus belittle and dismiss or compare with others what he puts in front of us to bring his light and love into because it all matters and who knows where it will go….
I was asked a few years ago who were the 3 most influential people in my life. A great question, and the first person that dropped into my mind surprised me. It was my old youth leader. Me and my sister were the only young people in our church growing up and we used to travel to youth group in a nearby town. Now I can’t recall a significant God moment or encounter or remember a significant conversation or prayer time but as a moody, insecure teen this youth leader every Sunday night would welcome me, come and shake my hand and ask me how I was. Every single week, without fail. He was interested, consistent, he cared and he noticed me. And looking back was such a source of stability and comfort as I navigated the choppy waters of teenage years.
After I mentioned my youth leader to my friend who asked me the question, he said “you should email him and tell him.” I hadn’t spoken to him for 15+ years but managed to get his details, and I encouraged the life out of him. I let him know the impact he had, how it may have seemed small but it mattered that he noticed me, that he shook my hand and that we would have these weekly chats and I shared what we were doing now. As I was typing I found myself crying over my keyboard and I think God was just giving me a snippet of the heart he had for us as a youth group – it really mattered to him. He brought his yes faithfully.
He replied and was so touched I took the time and loved hearing how we were getting on in Inverness. I am so glad I got in touch. On reflection looking at our planting adventure I like to think that his yes in faithfully loving us crazy, wild teens brought me to where I am today, that God was in the throne room back in 1996 orchestrating something beautiful with this spotty teen and a man who just wanted to let us know everything would be OK. That something was deposited in me in that season that was brewing for 15 years, that those years mattered even if I didn’t see it at the time. That Johns yes in caring for us teens has played its part in Mhairi and I playing our part. I am beginning to learn how important every part of the body is, it is all needed to work as it should.
It all matters – whether we plant a church or not isn’t the point, it was never our intention 10 years ago when saying yes to becoming a youth pastor (though that might be your yes to take that step after reading this), what really matters is we just keep saying yes to what God places before us, to trust God is always at work and he has a plan. Our yes now might be part of unlocking the church planters of tomorrow, the leaders of our country, the mover and shakers of the kingdom for the next generation – let that sink in. It all matters. Youth groups, coffee mornings, logistics teams, small groups, dance groups, prison work, business start ups, counselling, phone calls, hand-shakes – it all matters.
And here is hoping 10, 15 years down the line we might just get a little email to hear of its fruit for our nation and the nations.
(PS Maybe you have someone you know you need to send an email to…)