This coming weekend, Crossroads Church of Long Island will be celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary. It is very surreal to think of how quickly the time has gone and all that has transpired over these 10 years.
I have had a chance to remember and reflect on numerous things that God has done along the way, as well as numerous things that I would do differently.
I have compiled a list of 10 things that I have learned over these last 10 years. I easily could write another list of the top 10 mistakes that were made. I may get to that one eventually. But, for today, here are 10 things that I have learned over these last 10 years.
1. God Loves People More Than I Do
Sometimes, when it comes to church planting, it can feel like you are trying to convince God to bring people to your church or event. Early on, I learned that it never was about trying to get people to come “my” thing. First, God has already demonstrated the full extent of His love for people by sending Jesus to die for every single one of us. Second, God further has demonstrated His love by sending us, as followers of Jesus, to share the Truth of His Love. God wants people know about His Love. I learned that sharing the Truth of His Love is way more about me going than people coming.
2.God Is Faithful, Even When I Am Not
There have been numerous times when I have made the wrong call or wrong decision when leading our church. Some of those decisions were bigger than others. But, there have been enough of those decisions where I can now see that in spite of me, God demonstrated His power and authority. God has remained faithful every step of the way, even when I made the wrong call.
3.It’s His Church and Not Mine
That may sound obvious. But, it is very easy to get wrapped up in thinking that everything at the church hinges on you. It’s one of those things that starts out innocently enough. It starts out as service and a willingness to do whatever it takes. Yet, it can easily turn into a belief that you are personally responsible for everything and everybody. That quickly results in taking the credit for everything that goes right and carrying the blame for everything that goes wrong. I had to learn that ultimately it was His church and not mine.
4.The Vision Of Crossroads Was Not Just Mine
Over these last 10 years, Crossroads has been extraordinarily blessed by people who have invested into Crossroads. We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars given by churches and individuals to help Crossroads start and expand into more communities. We have also seen thousands of people who have come to Long Island to serve on short-term mission trips. It is humbling to think of the churches and supporters who have given sacrificially to help Crossroads and love the people of Long Island over these years. Yet, all of this is because they share the vision of seeing people across Long Island changed and transformed by Jesus.
5.The Importance Of A Team
From the beginning of Crossroads, we learned the importance of serving as a team. We have been privileged to have numerous people who have invested their lives to serve with us at Crossroads. We have seen people who have moved to Long island to join our Crossroads Leadership Team. We have also seen people who were already here on Long Island that God led to lead with us as well. It is humbling to look back and see how God has orchestrated His plan for Crossroads by bringing a team of people together to provide the leadership that is needed. I am so grateful for all of the people that have been a part of our Crossroads Team over these last 10 years.
6.What I Said Or Did At Crossroads Didn’t Matter To My Family
That makes it sound like my family didn’t care about what was going on at Crossroads. They did. But, I had to learn the hard way that any of my activities and responsibilities as a pastor and church planter did not substitute for being a husband and a father. I had to learn that my sermon on Sunday was not the content to lead my family. Especially Jenna and Madison have helped me to learn that the best way for me to lead our family had nothing to do with titles or responsibilities from the church.
7.God Doesn’t Love Me More Or Less Based Upon Worship Attendance On A Given Sunday.
There’s a weird irony with pastoring a church and planting a church. We want to do all that we can to make it successful, but not take the credit. Like Brian Bloye says in his book “It’s Personal” ‘When the church plant doesn’t do well, we take the blame. When it’s successful, it’s all glory to God.’ There have been many, many Sundays when I walked out of the church feeling like a failure if the attendance was lower. Over the years, I have had to learn and remember that God’s love for me has nothing to do with attendance, offerings, and sermons.
8. 1 Comes Before 100
Any pastor will tell you that it is much easier to preach to 100 people than to 10 people. As church planters, we want to see growth and success and we want to see it now. We desperately want to see all of the chairs filled up and we want to have the problems of dealing with parking and multiple services. But, in our longing for the masses of people, it’s easy to lose sight of the individual person. I had to learn that one person matters. I truly believe that when we learn how important and how much God values one person, He will send others to us.
9. Leading With Authenticity Is Better Than Leading With Authority
I have come to love and appreciate the sincerity, honesty, and bluntness of New Yorkers. I have also come to realize and understand that people need and appreciate authenticity from their pastor. There have been plenty of times when I needed to be transparent and real, when I wanted to pretend that I had all of the answers. Jana Jenkins, a founding member of Crossroads, once shared with our small group that God told her “God cannot have a relationship with the person that you pretend be, but He can have a relationship with you.” In my whole life, I will never forget that sentence.
10. His Grace Is Enough
The most important thing that I have learned over the last 10 years is that the Grace of Jesus Christ is enough for me and it is enough for every other person on this planet. I have learned that I am never beyond the reach of His grace and neither is anyone else. My life changed nearly 10 years ago when I was praying and meditating on 2 Corinthians 5:19. I began to really understand that God has given us this ministry of reconciliation to let people know that their sins are no longer counted against them, because of what Christ has done for them. This verse changed my life. I began to understand that no matter what had been done in the past. No matter the sin. No matter the guilt. The Grace of Jesus is bigger than the sin. The Grace of Jesus goes beyond the guilt. This is the message that is for me, you, Long Island, and the world.