I learned from my mistake.
The only way a mistake can permanently harm you is if you don’t learn from it.
Sometimes things look good, sound good, or feel good, but once you have it you realize it wasn’t right for you.
In the first year of our church, there were several people that came to the church with seemingly good intentions. Most, if not all of them knew how to talk the talk when it came to the church. I wish their intentions had been good, but they weren’t.
This is the story of one of those people.
When you’re only preaching to a few people every week, any visitor is a welcome sight. Preaching to people is a lot better than preaching to empty chairs, that’s for sure.
Yet what happens when you have people that come to your church that don’t fit in the DNA of the church. Maybe they come with their own preconceived ideas of how a church should be run. What if they talk about Jesus, ask for prayer, give their finances to the church, and yet they are full of wickedness on the inside.
It’s strange to think that people like that exist, but they do.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Keeping the wrong people away is just as important as keeping the right people with you.
I wish I had known that back then.
We welcomed every person with open arms and did our best to keep every single person that we could. We still do this today, yet with a little more caution (you’ll see why).
Pastor means shepherd, part of being a good shepherd making sure that the sheep that follow you actually belong to you.
Not every single person that comes to your church will belong to you. As a brand new, inexperienced pastor, I didn’t know that.
I always try to believe the best of every person, that with God anybody can change. Yet what if those people don’t want to change?
What if people come to actually hinder what God is trying to do in your ministry or life. What if the very people you are trying to help, are secretly working against everything that you’re working for.
We had a man come to the church that from the moment we met him we felt uneasy. He would talk about Jesus, but would also say things that didn’t line up with God’s Word.
I felt that if this person sat in enough church services and heard the preaching of God’s word he would change. Therefore I didn’t do anything about him.
As the weeks passed, people in the church would come up to my wife or myself and mention something that this man was saying and now they were confused. Confusion is not from God. Anybody working to spread confusion in the Church is working against the Holy Spirit.
I began to speak quite boldly to this man about his ideas and told him he needed to give his life completely to Jesus. I thought that I had broken through to him, but I hadn’t.
During the time he was coming to our church, another man started coming and who was had similar beliefs as the other guy. This man was different though, he seemed willing to learn and to change his ways.
He said that he wanted to leave everything of his past behind and surrender his life completely to Jesus. I believe he was sincere.
Then he started to spend time with the other guy, the one who wasn’t willing to change. Suddenly they both stopped coming to church. I wondered what had happened, why the second guy had stopped coming when God was working in his life.
It was a few weeks later after a church service that I saw both of them driving together in the same vehicle.
In that moment I knew what had happened. The first guy had pulled the second out of the church, and out of God’s plan for his life.
I’m sure that if I had dealt better with the first man that didn’t want to change, that this second man would still be attending our church.
It’s crucial to the success of any ministry to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit. That first moment when my wife and I felt uneasy about that man, I should have done more to protect our people.
In my desire to see the church grow and have more people in it, I actually lost somebody. Today that wouldn’t happen again, I’ve learned from that mistake.
We encourage anybody and everybody to come to our church. Yet if you come to mess around with the things of God and pull people away from Him, you will not be welcome anymore.