This month I am sharing some of the lessons learned and confirmed in 29 years of serving as Senior Pastor of Grove Church. In particular, I am focusing on one of the more difficult seasons in my ministry. It was during this time that I had to make a decision that was unpopular among some members. As I reflect upon that time in my ministry, I wanted to share some of the lessons learned, as we prepare to celebrate the opening of our new Family Life Center.
God wants us to put our trust in Him.
I stood firm on the decision to hold off on building a new sanctuary, because God never gave me the release to move forward. From time to time, we all have doubts about God—mostly because we are looking at things through our human lens. However, we must not walk away from God because of doubt. God’s timing is not like ours. Learning to trust God is a process. Just as with any other relationship, we must spend quality time with God, getting to know Him and His will for our lives. God desires for us to experience His best and, along the way, our trust in Him grows, as does our understanding of Him. He can multiply and maximize our steps if we trust Him and are obedient.
The world defines greatness differently than God.
Grove is a great church—a beacon of hope in God’s kingdom. It’s great because it is part of God’s kingdom, not because of how big it is or how much real estate we have acquired. Too many churches today are so focused on how the church looks or how many members they have, that they don’t look at the needs of the community or serve the people of God who society considers to be the least, the lost and the marginalized. God wants us to love and serve people, not build walls around the church to keep people out. He desires for us to open paths that welcome others so we can show them the light and love of Christ.
Before you climb the ladder, make sure God is at the top.
We must learn to be submissive to God—no matter what! God gave me a vision and showed me the needs of His people. It’s critical to put ourselves and our personal agendas aside to make sure that Christ is first. Premature elevation can lead to destruction, arrogance and failure.
It’s easy to get caught up in man’s desires and dreams, but as Scripture reminds us in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” (KJV)
Peace and power.
© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,