In my new role as a coach and consultant, I no longer have a great big office (as I did when I was a pastor). Nowadays my office (well, really my desk) is in the room where our grandson sleeps when he spends the night.
Needless to say, I no longer have space for all the books, files, and knick-knacks that I’ve accumulated over 30 years of ministry. So, I’m having to downsize…de-clutter…let go of some things.
So far Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” method is not working. It seems like everything I touch “sparks joy.” Like my John Wesley bobblehead. And my collection of Good Shepherd mugs. And my Star Trek lunchbox.
And then there’s this old sermon I came across in my files. “Forward by Faith.” Doesn’t sound that interesting. Probably not one I’ll preach again. It can be thrown out.
But wait! As I’m throwing it in the recycling bin, the file falls open. And then I realize: It’s the sermon I preached on February 9, 1992—the one-year anniversary of Good Shepherd Church!
In those days we were meeting at Olympic High School. I still remember that auditorium. We weren’t allowed to use the stage lights, and we weren’t able to turn on the heat.
We had one weekly worship service. No projector. No screens. No PowerPoint. All the songs were printed in the bulletin. Our praise band consisted of an electric keyboard and a guitar.
Here’s part of what I said to that group of 100 people sitting in that cold, dark auditorium:
Faith says that God has a “race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Faith says that God has a plan for this church, and we’re going to see that plan unfold year by year as we run the race with perseverance.
And even though RIGHT NOW all we see is a bunch of people meeting in a public school, faith says that God is planning to do something powerful with this gathering of people called Good Shepherd UMC!
I believe that God is planning to build us into a major regional church that will touch thousands—not hundreds—thousands of lives!
Sparks joy? More like, brings tears to my eyes!
Today of course, Good Shepherd really is a “major regional church” that touches thousands of lives. And that’s just in weekly worship services! Add in the lives touched by Good Shepherd’s amazing outreach ministries—and Talbot’s books—and now we’re talking hundreds of thousands of lives.
It’s also exciting to notice something else I said that day in 1992. I talked about the importance of small groups that would “allow us to keep the personal touch even as the church keeps getting bigger.”
From everything I’ve seen and heard, Good Shepherd has done exactly that.
Those of us who were part of Good Shepherd in the very early days knew that God was up to something good. But I’m not sure any of us imagined just how good. It’s humbling to look back at the vision we had in the beginning and realize that God has brought it all to pass—and then some. In fact, way more than we ever expected.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians. He says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (3:20). Good Shepherd is proof of that.
I’ll say it again. Praise God!
This is one file I’m not going to throw away.