12 years is a long time in one place and it is natural that it will form a huge part of my perspective on ministry as well as my life.
This blog entry is in no way intended to speak of the current Craigieburn ( Salvos 3064 ), for really .. I have no idea what is happening there right now.... but rather what I have learned since leaving 3064. And I guess what I am willing to confess today about missing from/about it.
Over these past 4 years, since leaving 3064, my journey has taken me along some different ministry paths. Some for which I am grateful for, and some for which I am not.
Has God been with me along the journey ? Absolutely ...He has never failed me, ever...but the truth is that since leaving 3064, I have felt something seriously missing.
It's bad, a bit, I think to have your identity tied up in a place, but how could it not after such a long time, the better way is for our identity to be tied up in Christ alone.
That's common sense for the Christian leader, - however in reality, we are all human and at times we find ourselves characterized by what we do and where we sit.
For me that was very much 3064 for such a long time. It's been hard for that to change.
I draw on others who are also characterised by such circumstances of longevity ...
Bill Hybels/Willowcreek, Brian Houston/Hillsong, Rick Warren/Saddleback etc etc.
Not that I put myself in their league..I do not. It's just about tenure. Etc
Anyway... this morning as I reflected in worship on the time when I first heard those worship songs, I remembered times in my life where my ministry seemed to count for something and made a difference. Those worship times and prayer times at Craigieburn were amazing.
Monday nights especially.
I look around and see a number of people in full time ministry either as officers, or ministry assistants and workers and know that God did great work in us all in those days.
After 4 years away, its probably been the first time that I have really noticed just how much I miss those times of power and praise.
I know full well you can't go back to "the good old days"..... however thats what they were... and I think that's when people get off track in churches, by trying to recreate the good old days.
They were for that season of life and maybe that season alone.
I can only hope that my life and ministry counted towards something for eternity in those good old days.
To the astute reader, you will pick up that I am feeling nostalgic and sentimental a little today, and perhaps a little sad... and I will need to work through that, but it has caused me some degree of self examination today to ponder "what was", and "what is..." and "what will be"... in the future for Gary Grant as a Salvo Officer.
Here is something of what I reflected on today, (bullet points only)
* Powerful Holy Spirit driven prayer meetings is where I discovered the leaders of that church.
* The excitement of new people coming to faith, sometimes in crazy radical ways that were a bit out
there for this Trad salvo from Perth.
* The wonder of being lost in worship, sensing God touching your heart and mind and shaping your
life every single week.
* Seeing people rise up into leadership and go off into ministry... 5 Officers now.
* The "aha" moments in our leadership meetings where penny's dropped for us all as we learned
together about how to lead in Gods Holy Church.
* Seeing 3 different worship/music teams develop as we started growing into an outstanding
contemporary church in The Salvation Army.
* And did I mention the prayer times, the Gateway Groups and the influence we had on community as we developed community forums, lobbied for infrastructure development for the local community and impacted the policies and politicians in our region...
Ahh those were indeed the days, highlight days of my ministry...and since then Satan has been attacking me with all guns ablazing.. not relenting in fact..
I haven't always won. I have gone under a few times since then, but today am pleased to say that I still stand.. still stand for Jesus, still desire to serve and please Him and to be victorious for Him in my life.
Ministry has shown me various ministry styles and issues and problems, but for me it only makes sense, if it is all about Jesus, and I firmly believe that when churches make life about Jesus, with Him as the priority and focus, and I mean that... evidenced by who turns up at the corporate prayer meeting,
then it is "then" and "only then" that church finds meaning, purpose and power and can make a difference to the community in which it is placed.
Anyway, its just my thoughts about my ministry so far... I am not finished yet, but I do know I can't go back to the "good old days, I must create new "good old days" , which in my future will be my new "good old days"
Just a thought.