We Say YES
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 — Wellspring’s year verse for 2019.
We began the year with a strong sense from the Lord to focus on the kingdom, selecting Mt 6:33 as our year verse. In so doing, we knew this invitation from the Lord would also bring forth the very things that we need: his provision, his direction, his faithful lordship, and his father’s love.
Now we find ourselves at the end of the year with a significant deficit. As of the end of October we are nearly $70,000 behind actual expenses. This is true even though giving has actually increased some over last year. But because we do not have a ministry expansion grant any longer and because our actual number of attendees is down, we find ourselves in a serious situation.
At this very same time of serious financial condition, we find ourselves in an equally powerful season of a fresh breath of the Lord’s favor upon Wellspring. “Back to the future.” We feel charged by the Lord to reset our vision and our ministry around Wellspring’s core callings, such as:
– A catalyst for renewal and revival. Impacting and influencing the world around us.
– Focusing on priorities of worship and intercession. A place where the Lord is pleased to dwell.
– Nurturing a family community, rich in grace and affirmation. A place that welcomes and ministers to broken lives and the broken-hearted.
– Cultivating life-giving relationships with other kingdom-minded ministries and movements. Building up each other, and welcoming the Holy Spirit.
The Lord has awakened our callings and vision, and we are confident that he is preparing us for 2020 and beyond.
In pastor, staff, and elder prayer times throughout this past fall, we have focused primarily on these two realities: 1. our financial situation, and 2. resetting our vision and refocusing ourselves on the ministry call. And we know that God is both aware and attentive to both.
Two weeks ago during our staff prayer time, Rick shared that we had received a word through Kerrie Butterfield that the dough was in the proofing drawer. That is, it was in the process of expanding as the yeast took effect. She felt that this word was regarding our finances. Then, as we began to pray as a staff, the Lord spoke very clearly and directly to me: “Don’t ask the congregation to sacrifice beyond what you (leadership) are willing to sacrifice.”
I shared with the staff and we prayed further. Throughout that day I continued to pray and meditate on what I had heard. I felt the Lord was offering far more than his help to meet our year-end finances. Rather, he continued to impress upon me that he was “testing” Wellspring.
I thought of the story of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. The story begins in Genesis 22 where we read that the Lord “tested” Abraham by asking him to offer Isaac. The word “test” can be translated “prove.” The Lord wanted to give Abraham a chance to prove his trust in the promise.
Back to Kerrie’s word…a proofing drawer is a proving drawer. The words are interchangeable. Is the Lord testing Wellspring and the leadership? Is he asking us to “prove” our declarations that we will seek him first? Will we cling to what we have financially and scrape for more to meet our year-end expenses? Or will we open our hands in confidence that Jehovah Jireh is still the provider of all that we need?
I was stirred and very weighted with this word and the test that I felt the Lord was presenting before us. I shared this with the other pastors and the elders. We prayed and processed what the Lord was saying, and although we were confident he was speaking and directing us, we did not have a sense of how to respond. What could we place on the altar in response to his ‘test’? How could we prove our faith and commitment?
Without a sense of what specifically to do, we shifted our meeting from the conference room to the sanctuary altar. There we prayed, and we said “yes.” Yes to the test. Yes to lead by example, and not ask the congregation to sacrifice beyond what we were willing to sacrifice. Yes to the Lord’s call, now and in the future. Then, in order to act on our “yes”, we emptied our wallets on the altar. Following Abraham’s example, we were placing our confidence not in what we have in hand, but in the Lord who is our provider.
This past Sunday, I preached from John 10 and Psalm 23: I am the good shepherd. My sheep hear my voice and follow. With the good shepherd we do not lack, but have his life and blessing. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for his sheep. I shared the story with the congregation of how the Lord was speaking to us. I shared how he specifically challenged the leadership of Wellspring to lead through sacrifice (following his model of leadership.) I shared how we were saying ‘yes’ to the Lord, even without knowing what that ‘yes’ might entail, and confirmed that by laying down on the altar all we had in our hands (wallets). I then invited the congregation to join the leadership by also saying yes.
My spirit was warmed by how the congregation came in agreement. Many of them (you) decided to also take action and brought a gift to the altar. I can report to you that the amount laid on the altar (both from the elder and the congregation) totaled over $7,000. That is a full 10% of our deficit! May the Lord receive this gift as firstfruits, opening a flow of kingdom provision for both today’s needs and for all that’s before us.
As we walk over the threshold from 2019 into 2020, we are confident the Lord is refreshing our vision and calling. But we don’t want to settle for vision without kingdom impact. Along with vision, we have been praying and prophesying new life into dry bones. With renewed vision, we say “yes” to the Good Shepherd’s voice. Our confidence is that as he releases vision, he will also release provision. He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.
Pam and I are prayerfully seeking the Lord for how he would have us respond to the financial need facing Wellspring, and to what else our “yes” may mean. We are not trying to create a solution, but we want to hear our good shepherd’s voice, and we want to follow well. I, and all the leadership, encourage you to also seek the Lord’s prompting at this time. Would you make this commitment with us? Our deep desire is for far more than church expenses covered. Rather, we desire to open the flow of Kingdom provision that will fuel the Lord’s vision for Wellspring in 2020 and beyond.