Some years ago, whilst happily living in Swindon and quite content to serve Swindon Family Church (now known as Gateway Church Swindon) for the foreseeable future, I took a short sabbatical for the purpose of writing what became a lengthy 110 page paper entitled ‘Church Planting, a vision to reach the nations’.
Feeling thoroughly inspired, I put pen to paper and under the heading of ‘The important role of visionary leaders’ I wrote boldly concerning the nature of the call of God on church planting men and women. I stated that through God’s inspired vision, the power of the Holy Spirit and a huge measure of God’s grace, it was clearly possible to establish churches where no previous relationship or personal activity was evident because, if it was truly God’s intention, then no obstacle could thwart His purposes.
I was very soon challenged to put this to the test and Gloucester was mentioned, to which I rather foolishly responded. We did not know anyone in Gloucester – but of course this was the point of the challenge. I looked at the geography and the demographics of the city and began a prayer journey that resulted in God speaking to me clearly that this was His adventure.
Why do I write this? Two reasons come to mind.
Firstly, it reminds me that City Church was God’s plan and I am convinced that what He starts He completes. We have been called by God to exist as a community to make His name known in this city and we have divine backing and power to work this out. God is working behind the scenes to ensure our success for His glory, our role is to remain faithful and focused on the task ahead of us.
Secondly, it is to encourage us that in the plans of God we often know the ‘what’ before we know the ‘how’. This can, at times, be agonisingly frustrating if God has given you a glimpse of your future but you have no clue as to how it will materialise. But here is the truth – the ‘how’ is never a problem for God. It is usually a problem for us as we want the ‘how’ question clarified before we embark on the ‘what’ and this can cause a great deal of anxiety. However, ‘how’ is God’s speciality! Remember Gabriel spoke to Mary about the wonderful things that would transpire in her life and she asked the ‘how’ question: “How can this be, since I am a virgin”? (Luke 1:34), Gabriel’s response was not to show her ‘how’ but to remind Mary of this great fact; “Nothing is impossible with God”. (v37)
We are on God’s assignment and if you feel overwhelmed, remember, you are invited to tap into the inexhaustible resources of God. All God requires of us is faithful dependence upon Him to answer the question HOW.