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Originally posted in 2017 on by Pastor Sandy Adams

Recently I visited a part of the country where Calvary Chapels have struggled to gain traction. I was informed of two pastors who after twenty years of ministry were thinking of shutting down their churches. I have known these men for many years, and think of them as capable pastors. Now after twenty years, circumstances have collided to cause them to evaluate closing their doors. This is not the Calvary Chapel story we like to write. We prefer the mega-church with the mega-success – big buildings, large crowds, multiple ministries, missions all over the world. This makes for easier reading, and is a less troublesome way of connecting the dots. We tell fledgling pastors, “Do ministry the Calvary Chapel way and people will come.” I wonder if we in Calvary Chapel have created our own prosperity doctrine for church growth.

The truth is, when God calls a man to Christian ministry there is no guarantee of numerical largess. God’s call to us is faithfulness. His sovereignty and His Spirit are responsible for the results. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” The work of the Kingdom is accomplished in the individual person’s heart, regardless of where their body happens to be sitting or how many bodies are adjacent. We build large sanctuaries to accommodate more people, but the work of King Jesus is done in the privacy of the heart regardless of the brick and mortar accommodations we have arranged. How many large auditoriums that once housed crowds of people seeking Jesus, are now cold and empty. Ultimately, the trappings of church are irrelevant.

In evaluating my ministry and its results, I have come to realize the building we built, and the accruements we assembled, were only a means to reach the souls of people. And it’s those people – their lives, their families, their destiny – that make up God’s Kingdom. If tomorrow we shut down the programs, and bulldoze the building, does it diminish what was done for so many years in the hearts of people? All tangible evidence of our ministry can be wiped away in an instant, but heaven views it differently. Pastors are not always privy to the scales God uses to weigh what goes on in the unseen realm. God sees the souls saved, the love shown, the Word taught, the pastor’s faithfulness even when it got hard. And in the end, heaven hands out its rewards accordingly. As we are told in Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”

So pastor, even after you have labored for twenty years, and your lease is up, and your building goes back to retail space, and the people remaining have found other church homes, it does not invalidate what God did through you for two decades. Unlike us, heaven never mistook the physical frills of church as an advancement of the Kingdom. Heaven kept its eyes on the redemption of people – and not only how many, but how thoroughly. And this continues to be heaven’s evaluation into the future. This is how God can still say to a pastor who has nothing left to show for his efforts, “well done, good and faithful servant.” Perhaps your time in that part of the field is over, and God needs you elsewhere.

— Pastor Sandy Adams

One Comment

  • Shonda says:

    I find this post encouraging in my own life. I do not know what God has called me to do but I know He wants me not to give up on myself in Him.

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