Not too long ago, I was driving somewhere I’d never been before. I did not have a GPS, but I did have directions courtesy of Googlemaps. I was doing fine for a while, but then, even though I was following the directions, I began to get the feeling that I had missed something. That something wasn’t right. Maybe there was a mistake in the directions I had. Maybe I had missed a turn. I kept checking the directions and I seemed to be following them, but I still had the feeling I was off-track. The road I was on just didn’t look like I thought it should look. It didn’t feel like I was making progress toward my destination. It seemed to be taking longer than it should. I was tempted to turn off on a road that seemed like it would get me where I was going faster. But I resisted that urge and kept on following the directions I had. And just shortly after that, it became clear that the way I was going was the right way. The directions I had were correct. I just had to keep going, keep following them, even though it felt like maybe I wasn’t going the right way.
I think this happens sometimes when we are in the midst of engaging the principles and practices of Acts 16:5. We have good directions. The gatherings and manuals provide a GPS of sorts for the journey we embark upon when we begin the adventure of the Acts 16:5 Initiative. But then we start to dream about what God wants to do in our church. We get excited about the vision God gives us, and we begin to map out directions towards that vision. We get a few Action Learning Teams working on opportunities and challenges we see around us.
And then it happens: we don’t feel like we are making progress toward the vision. The way we are heading doesn’t look right, doesn’t feel right. Maybe we had missed a turn. Maybe our directions weren’t good. And we begin to second-guess the directions and either turn back the way we came or turn onto another route.
When you get to this place—and you surely will get here at some point—let me offer you some advice: Keep going! Trust the directions—the principles and practices detailed for you in the manuals and the gatherings. They have worked for many, many churches as tools for vitality and growth.
Sometimes God does have to ‘recalculate’ our directions because we’re working with a faulty map. But very often we have a good map, but we fail to trust that map, a map that—if we continue to follow it, in spite of how it looks or how we feel or how difficult the route—will get us to where God wants us to go.
So take the adventure God has for you! And trust the directions. They will lead to vitality and renewal and new possibilities in your church and community.
Wishing you JOY for the journey!