Chuck Musselwhite pastors The Village Chapel in Lompoc, CA. He shares wisdom with us after dealing with the hardest challenge he’s faced as a pastor…
Church Planters are by nature entrepreneurial, strong willed, and resourceful people which serves them well as they forge new territory with their church. These strengths can also be our greatest stumbling blocks as rely too much on ourselves and do not let Jesus sustain us. We push, push, push until we are ready to collapse. This can be dangerous and unhealthy.
I am just coming off the craziest year of ministry ever in my life as a pastor. The past twelve months have been nonstop activity. Over the summer I almost crashed and burned with all the weight of responsibilities. Only by the grace of God was I able to get away for a bit and recharge.
I was looking forward with optimism towards the Fall ministry season as we were experiencing new growth, had a full slate of initiatives beginning, and construction would be completed on our recently purchased buiding. There was an expectancy in our church and it seemed there was a unity of spirit and purpose. I wasn’t prepared for what was to come.
As we turned the corner from Summer to Fall our church was hit with spiritual attacks like never before. Many families came under attack through issues at home and they started to drop like flies. Individuals struggled with personal and professional issues like never before. Marriages were struggling. Add on top of that a government shut down which affects over two thirds of your church (we are less than five miles from a Air Force Base and a Federal prison). That led to a drop in our givings like we have never seen. Our building was, and still is delayed, by the permit process. I was tapped and then I had to deal with the most difficult issue I ever had to as a pastor. It consumed my time day and night for close to a month. It hit our church hard and is still effecting many of our families.
What was amazing was how God sustained me through it all. It was truly not by my might, nor by my strength, but by the Holy Spirit. Generally when the stress is going through the roof my mind wanders to getting away for some down time. I dream of vacations that will be fun as a family or as a couple. Typically my energy is drained and I just want to take a nap all the time. In my most difficult stretch as a pastor none of that happened. There was a supernatural strength that sustained me. In the midst of that battle it wasn’t me that was fighting it but God.
2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
The people of my church told me that they were praying for me and literally for the first time I could say that I was feeling their prayers because I had no physical strength left in me.
In the midst of that battle it wasn’t me that was fighting it but God.
When there is great expectation expect great opposition. Our church experienced true spiritual warfare but we are seeing God prevail. We didn’t respond correctly all the time but God has done a new work in the hearts of our people. The expectation is still there but it is clearer and more dependent upon God. As church planters our will might be strong and our vision huge but we must remember that we are working in a realm that is much bigger than ourselves and if try to do it under our own strength we will get knocked down. If we rely upon Jesus for our strength we will be sustained.
As church planters our will might be strong and our vision huge but we must remember that we are working in a realm that is much bigger than ourselves and if try to do it under our own strength we will get knocked down.