The Church in Smyrna
GraceCrossing Community Church formerly Phoenixville Baptist Church has bore its share of sufferings and difficulties.
Through much needed change and vision- anger, envy and deceit took hold. It was an us and them situation-The traditionalists and the visionaries. Though, the traditionalists are not all to blame and not the only ones with the bad behaviors, that I should make clear. I have learned many many things over the years and relatively short time in ministry.
With the vision changes came growth in attendance and joy exploded. Teens-even without parents,young adults, children and families in church were growing, baptisms often, new members monthly. Music was joyful and worship was lively, sermons were of hope and restoration. Most of the church, minus the traditionalists spent hours together after church, sharing meals, hanging out, participating in God filled programs. Other programs filled weekday evenings with special outreach projects on Saturdays.
Shortly following the joyful time, was a louder grumbling, slow leak of people leaving, anger voiced, money withheld and eventually despair set in.
The money ran low, very low, months from closing the doors forever…the Pastor was called to a different church, one he had previously turned down but this time accepted. He was defeated after years of trying to rally what seemed to be a hopeless situation. The mass exodus of members continued. A lively church of 140 with loads of children, was left with a few kids, 2 teens and 40 adults.
This difficulty lasted way more than 10 days! Some of us stood still, knowing that if the Lord wanted us to be here, He would make it happen.
Psalm 121- I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Looking back, I would change a few things…but not the visioning. It was the right way to go. The delivery could have been gentler. There should have been more face to face “confrontations” of the whisperings and misconceptions, even at risk of losing some who were causing problems.
We have survived our prison time…barely…but we are moving forward now. Momentum is building, joy has returned and God is fulfilling His promises to the faithful.