We are back from the PCA Church Planting Assessment Center. Words cannot encapsulate the experience. It was the most gruelling, honest, beautiful, unifying (Kori and me), enjoyable, corporate (new friends) and mexican (nice restaurant across the street) week I can remember. I heard the Word declared with particular application to a person like me.
Kori and I then went to a Bed and Breakfast in PA (Glasbern, Fogelsville PA) for processing and cool white robes – sorry, had to say that. This was my assessment of our experience at Assessment:
I was found out. Kori was found. Both of us are now driven to the gospel in new ways AS ONE COUPLE.
Anyway, one thing I will share (most of our experience I will not): I am zealous. Excessively. Apparently my zeal can be of good kingdom use, but it can also have its people-effect that is less than desirable. I see it now. This morning, I was reading from Isaiah 37, and I came across a powerful statement that I have read thousands of times in the prophetic books.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (37:32)
I read it. Then again. Again. The assessed-self was seeing something powerfully apropos. Ministry is about the Lord’s zeal, not my zeal. In my zeal I am either winsomely “effective” (at best), OR deceptively manipulative (at worst). Because of that, my zeal is NOT the means by which I hope the Lord will do this church plant or any other ministry. Rather, there will be a church in the West Valley of the Lehigh Valley ONLY if the zeal of the Lord does this.
Why was the recognition of my zeal such a focus of assessment? Partly because I was blind to it. Partly because it affects people in ways I don’t intend. But mostly, I think I see the reason in Isaiah 37:32 – my zeal is NOT the zeal by which kingdom things will be accomplished. No, only the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish his purposes in my home, my life, the church plant or any other locus of his work.
O God, even now I am excited because this makes so much sense and will have its impact… but may my excitement be about YOUR safe/powerful ZEAL, and not my own. I can control my zeal about as much as my son (18mo) can control himself when he sees food he wants. This HAS to be about something BIGGER than my zeal. And it is.