Being just days away from stepping into my new responsibilities with the New Hope Church family in the greater Minneapolis area, it seems reasonable to offer one final, loving word to our beloved Bethel Church community—words put forward in my last sermon on July 12, and which will be meaningfully helpful for Bethel Church in the days ahead. Everyone who calls Bethel Church “home” needs five rocks in his or her bag.
First, it makes sense to remind ourselves of the story of the shepherd boy, David, who headed off to fight the great giant Goliath in the Valley of Elah. Consider the text from 1 Samuel 17:38-40:
Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.
What might be the five smooth stones our Bethel Church friends need as we face the unique transitional challenges that lie ahead?
First, we need the Rock of Trust. Trust in God during these times! Hebrews 4:16 invites us to go to the Throne of Grace with confidence, boldness, knowing that God is gracious and willing to give help in our time of need. We must place into our pouches the smooth stone of trust. We must trust God in our time of need.
Secondly, we need the Rock of Belief. Believe in your leaders in these days ahead—particularly in your elders and in your pastors and directors. They are great and godly men and women who have God’s best interests in mind for the entire Bethel family. I trust them completely. You can too. They treasure this church, are devoted to Jesus, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and committed to the authority of God’s Word. They have a wonderful mission to ensure the spiritually hungry experience and proclaim the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Believe in them—pray for them, encourage them, follow them. Hebrews 13:17 tells us to obey our leaders and submit to them as they keep watch over our souls. Do this diligently.
Thirdly, we need the Rock of Unity. Stick together! Satan will want to take the opportunity afforded by a major transition within the Bethel Church family to wreak havoc on relationships and trust and vision and so forth. Flee from him. Run to God. Do this together. Hebrews 10:24-25 underscores the beating heart of God for unity within His church: “Let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, all the more as you see the Day of the Lord’s Return drawing nigh.” Stick together!
Fourthly, we need the Rock of Generosity. Be generous with your time, your spiritual giftedness, and your financial resources. All three are needed. Do not neglect to offer these things. Be especially sensitive about your finances. Transitions can create insecurity and people sometimes take a “wait and see” approach with their money. Do not think this way. After all, you are ultimately giving to the Lord and not just to a human cause. Your resources help the ministries flourish and God’s purposes continue to unfold. Be generous. Hebrews 13:16 exhorts you to share what you have and not to fall short of doing good for the community.
Lastly, we need the Rock of Purpose. Move toward Jesus and take others with you! That is your high calling as a disciple. Do not give up! It may seem counter-intuitive, but healthy churches thrive during major transitions, and one of the reasons is they do not neglect their high and holy calling to move toward Jesus and take others along. Hebrews 12:2-3 remind us to look to Jesus; to consider Jesus. Do not surrender this mission; this purpose. It’s ultimately All About Jesus.
Significant transition creates challenges, opportunities, and even threats. Sometimes these feel huge. But with these five smooth stones in your personal bag, you can face what lies ahead with joy, confidence, and the assurance that the best is yet to come. I love you, I believe in you, and I have all the confidence that when this transition is completed, all of us will rejoice because God will have proven himself faithful yet again!