New ministry ventures can be scary business, that’s for sure. Stepping into the great unknown can be paralyzing for a local church. Without intentional focus we naturally turn towards the familiar. Why wouldn’t we? The familiar brings expected results. The familiar isn’t scary. The familiar is, well, familiar. On the other hand, the familiar rarely results in the unsaved hearing the gospel. The familiar rarely encounters people who think or look differently. The familiar rarely accomplishes great things for the Kingdom.
Recently I watched a challenging sermon by an older preacher who lamented that many churches have few friends and fewer enemies. These churches have few friends because they think of themselves rather than the Kingdom and end up isolated. Even worse, they have fewer enemies because they attempt very little. What a sad prognosis.
As folks who love the church but admittedly fear the unknown, here are a few thoughts:
Keep the Great Commission front and center
Matthew 28:18-20 records Jesus’ marching orders for the church. He says, “Go and make disciples.” Go where? Go into our living rooms, neighborhoods, classrooms, and every other square inch of this planet. We go with the intent of making disciples, not simply converts.
Thankfully, Jesus’ promises provide a powerful antidote to the fear generated by going. First, Jesus tells us all authority has been given to him. Second, he tells us he will be with us always. Because he has all authority, he has the right to send us. Because he has all authority, he will be with us every step of the way.
There is nothing worse than feeling ill-equipped for a task. Let’s face it, we’ve all got plenty of reasons to believe we’re not ready. The problem with that line of thinking is that it focuses on us rather than Jesus. Trusting in him, we get ready for the work he has given us. We spend time in prayer asking him to prepare our hearts. We spend time in Scriptures that provide a biblical basis for our task. Finally, we take the time to prepare and know our task well. Hear Paul’s words, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col 3:23).
Believe what we profess
It’s easy to talk on Sunday about God being sovereign, powerful, or good. But, does that knowledge change the way we live and work on Monday through Saturday? Do we really believe what we profess? Too often we fall into the trap of keeping our theology in our heads and out of our circumstances. We disconnect God’s attributes from our day-to-day lives. What a mistake! Whatever God is, he is all the time, everywhere. That means his goodness, power, and sovereignty are present in the middle of our day-to-day lives. I’ll challenge you to take a few moments to consider the evidences of grace you see in your life and those around you. If we believe he is who we claim he is, the unknown is much less intimidating.
Great reward involves risk
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of every nation.” That means we are going to have to trust his authority and his presence, and take some risks. I can’t shake the old preacher’s words, “You attempt very little.” As a church leader, those words scare me (see the “Parable of the Talents” in Matt. 25). I never want to reflect on my life or ministry and think, “I sure wish I would have tried…” Sure we’ll get some scrapes and bruises. That’s okay. God never calls us to be successful; he simply calls us to be faithful. That means we are going to have to step out of the familiar and into the unknown.
So, what does that mean for us at Seerley Creek Christian Church? God is calling us to attempt great things for his glory. Some of the things he calls us to will be familiar. Some will be extremely challenging and uncomfortable. They may even seem unwise. But, as we sense and respond to his Spirit’s guidance, he will accomplish great things through us.
Yours in Christ,
 Ben Merold, NACC 2015 Indianapolis, digital copy of the sermon on file at Seerley Creek Christian Church.