While traveling during my blogging hiatus,
I caught up with my good friend, Josh Allen. In the midst of catching up on our lives, God smacked me with a profound truth.
First, some background: Josh was on-staff as the worship leader at our Ohio church plant. I jokingly say that Josh and I went through war together:
front page news one month,
merging with another area church due to the Great Recession the next.
God was faithful as Josh and I shepherded our young congregation toward Western Reserve Grace Church. Josh now serves as their Worship Pastor and was sharing stories with me of how former Catalyst folk are thriving in their relationships with Christ and continuing to pour themselves out for the Kingdom of God in north-east Ohio.
Leaving Catalyst was deeply painful - our family had sacrificed everything in church planting. While the moment was fresh, I felt like a nuclear blast had gone off in my soul.
The first person to call me when Catalyst closed its doors was Perry Noble.
I'll never forget his life-giving words to me: "Jonathan, you are not a failure.
God needed to do this in your life for a greater purpose."
Although I could not have known it at the time, God was preparing a resurrection.
In John 12, Jesus said to His followers, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." The death of one dream was the genesis for the birth of countless others.
And for our family, that greater purpose was eventually serving in Michigan. But as time went by and is often the case, I lost track of some of our old friends and supporters in Ohio. I always wondered how things turned out for them.
You see, up until then, Josh had only experienced rejection from the senior leadership whenever he transitioned out of a church. For the first time in his ministry career, Josh told me that Catalyst allowed him to transition out of working at a church while maintaining a deep friendship with the lead pastor.
Serving now at Western Reserve, Josh shared story after story of former Catalyst folk who are absolutely, God-glorifyingly thriving. Guys like Matt Simon, who interned at Catalyst, now graduating with his Master's degree and coming on staff at Western Reserve.
You see, God allows things to die because He's in the resurrection business.
God scoops up broken people like you and me because He's in the redemption business.
My encouragement to leaders today is this:
If your ministry or church plant is limping along,
and you're feeling like your tank is on empty, take a step back.
God is still sovereign. The King is still on the throne.
Sometimes our faces are so close to the pixels that only with time and distance can we see the full picture.