This is part four of the Steps Series.
We entered year four with a new name, a new place to meet, and a “pocket full of dreams.” 🙂
Many things seemed to fall into place at once. Onsite storage at the Rec Center, great relationship with the city, a new family who came on board as the other family had moved on, needs for meeting in the new place were provided, and more.
We worked hard, we served hard, we planned hard and we prayed hard. …And we invited and we invited.
But the growth did not happen. I can think of a number of things that were real roadblocks to major growth, but sometimes a running list of such things just comes across as “backward glance excuses.” So I’ll provide some of that information later as “lessons learned,” in a future post called, “Stepping Stones.” But for now, let’s just say that we spent our final stretch marching uphill.
Halfway through the year I was really wondering why God would not release me from this. Financially, my family was in a fast sinking pit. All of our reserves had been exhausted and I had been working other jobs along the way, but it still wasn’t enough to even take care of the basics. Those on my lead team were having similar struggles.
The sacrifices [or maybe just unwise choices?] we were making would have been more bearable if we were actually achieving our goal. But the fact of the matter was, we were having a difficult time getting people through the doors.
And even when they did come through our doors, the “trickle in” factor and the “small crowd” factor worked against us.
It wasn’t so much a “slow motion train wreck” as much as it was a “slow motion train coming to a stop on the tracks.” When it finally came to a stop, we could stand there in front of the train and see the tracks in front of us and where they were headed. We could see a great destination ahead. We could see the crowds that were waiting for us just around the bend. But we could also see that we were out of coal for the engnine.
It’s hard to explain how we knew it was time to draw things to a close. But we just knew. All at once and all on one Sunday, God made it clear to my small team, to me and to Leona that it was time to stop. He was releasing us from this assignment. A few phone calls and visits later and Compass Church had come to a complete stop.
I don’t know exactly why I couldn’t get a peace about shutting things down 10 months earlier. But I do know that God taught me things about church planting, ministry, vision, myself and church in general that I don’t believe I could have learned any other way.
The concept of “more, stronger and closer” followers of Jesus Christ was refined during this past year. An innovative format for a weekly gathering of men was developed during this time. And there was growth and maturity that took place in the lives of those who were with us.
I also discovered that the “tracks” we were on would not lead us to the right destination. I realized where we needed to go, and began to understand that we couldn’t “get there from here.” I knew that it would take a different approach, a different starting point and a fresh strategy to achieve the vision.
But in November of 2006, neither my family nor my team had the ability, strength or resources to continue. So within a week of the decision to draw Compass to a close, we took our last step.
The “last” step, however, is not the “final” step.
It is merely the step that precedes the next one…
Next in this series: “Next Steps”