I have moved from growing churches in South America to the challenge of the pastorate in a southern city of the great state of Mississippi. I have enjoyed the first 3 months. I think one would be alarmed if I said anything else.
Seriously, the challenge of preaching God's infallible word each week has been a great blessing for me. I cannot think of anything else I would want to do. I enjoy discipling believers, new and old alike; I enjoy the challenge of "birthing a sermon" to feed God's flock. There is nothing like it. The major differences between the past 20, plus, years and now is the language I use. In Peru it was Spanish, sometimes translated by someone else into Quechua. Here, it is English (though I find the chance to use my Spanish from time to time). Also, the depth of my teaching is different. I spent far more time on the basics in those new churches, with those new believers. Here, I can go deeper into a passage.
The challenge of all challenges is to create a growth attitude in this great church. Do not misunderstand me; they want to grow. Many have said something like, "Just show us what to do so that we can grow." But what many of you reading this may know is that growing existing churches is often a very difficult thing. There are some relatively easy things I guess I could do. As one writer has said, anyone can grow a church if he wants to put on a better show than the churches around him. I don't want that kind of growth, quite frankly. I am of the school of thought that teaches that God is not in "show business." So we won't have motorcycles cruising down our aisles. We won't drop commandos from the ceiling while an orchestra plays exciting music. We won't be giving away flatscreens and large (or small) sums of cash for those who visit us.
What will we do? Three things that give birth to many other things I can't write about in one posting: we will deepen our love for Jesus, stand firm on his doctrines, and seek to obey all things he has said in that infallible word that gives us his doctrine. Yes, for us it will be love, doctrine, and obedience. What we do in our great church is going to flow from those three foundational values.
Growing churches in North America can be done! God has not withdrawn his presence, yet!