Church revitalization is hard work. It is not for the faint of heart. It can be discouraging and isolating. Often times, those who are committed to church revitalization will find themselves afflicted by the “greener grass” syndrome, believing that everyone else’s experience is better than their own and that no one understands their struggles. Such feelings often lead to doubt and unbelief. At the core of those doubts is a question that no pastor ever wants to ask but sometimes wonders, “Can this church really be revitalized?”
In Psalm 78:19, Asaph records a similar question from the Israelite people, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” The supposed context of the question is the wilderness wandering. Doubt and unbelief are at the heart of the Israelite question. God had led them out of Egypt and into the wilderness in route to the Promised Land. They had beheld a multitude of miracles in the recent past, but now, faced with their wanderings, they began to doubt God’s ability. Those who walked through the parted waters of the Red Sea were fearful about the source of their next meal.
For the pastor committed to seeing a church revitalized, it is easy to feel like these wandering Israelites. At times, it can feel as though a few descendants from this wilderness generation have made their way into the church. They tend to talk about the glory of the past like the grumbling Israelites talked about the good ole days in Egypt. They tend to make doomsday-esque predictions about their community and their church. They have forgotten that while the church and community have changed, God has not changed.
The God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, the God who provided manna and quail in the wilderness, and the God who reigned during the “glory days” of your current church is still reigning and ruling today! Let us not question God’s ability to provide in the lean times of ministry. Christ’s promise is sure: He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The harvest is still plentiful! Press on, brothers!