Saturday, March 3, 2012

The first four years

"In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid... And in the eleventh year... the house was finished in all its parts and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it." 1 Kings 6:37 - 38

These kinds of texts always capture my attention. Firstly, I suspect as it reflects M and my story. Secondly because it gives us a little guideline to building his church.

M and I are in the third leadership chapter of our ministry lives. From 1983 till 1996, we had the remarkable privilege of captaining the team that led Glenridge Church International in Durban South Africa. From the very motley crew of friends who found each other with a dream to build a beautiful church, we set out on a most wonderful adventure. It was a community raw in passion, diverse in personality and large in vision.

Then one day, in Hong Kong actually God spoke to M and me about handing this beautiful 'girl' over. Our task was done but the work was not yet complete. Amazing really - it took 15 years to build the temple. It had taken us around 14 years to set Glenridge on course and then our task was done. Under Rory and the team, the church blossomed, growing from around 1000 to 3000 planting many churches and casting a large gospel light over Durban and beyond.

The call to LA, USA was out of left field. We simply did not see it coming. In fact M and I thought we would relocate to the east. That was not to be. We were called to replant a church with a very fragile history. This was a very different experience. Leading her from 1996 till 2010, we labored hard with many wonderful friends to recapture this community's call to a multiplied future. Great years, hard years, many tears and much joy. Again around 14 years was taken to fulfill our part of this great assignment. And again God surprised us, by calling us to hand over the leadership of the Southlands story just as the task of reconstruction was complete and new traction was being found.

There does seem to be some evidence that it takes around 4 years to lay foundations. For those of you planting or replanting, patience is the order of the day. It is easy to overly evaluate the first 4 years in a new story or chapter. We simply do not know how well we are building during that window. It is hard, dirty, labor intensive work. The new leader is so desperate to get results quickly but do so at their own peril. Quick growth or slow tedious effort indicates very little during those 4 years. The seduction of numbers [rapid or slow] has been the demise of too many leaders. The only thing we must look is the quality of our foundations not the seats in a room.

The glory came fifteen years later... please no more one generational wonders. We simply cannot afford that.

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