We were looking at the story of Gideon from the book of Judges in church today and together we were struck by a number of principles that are very relevant to church planting.
1. Don’t be afraid
Gideon is afraid (6:27). And so he hides in the winepress (6:11); acts by night (6:27); seeks constant reassurance (6:17, 36-40) and always seem to dither when God commands. God teaches him to trust him, famously winning the victory through Gideon with just 300 men. God’s opening words ot Gideon are very significant (and ironic): ‘Mighty hero, the LORD is with you.’
Samuel was commenting before the meeting on how easily afraid he can be. And I have been realising how much I organise my ministry to avoid situations of risk or fear. So we have resolved to greet one another this week with the words: ‘Mighty hero, the LORD is with you.’
2. Don’t be afraid of being afraid
It is easy to be debilatated by the call not to fear. But God graciously meets Gideon’s fears at each stage. Every time Gideon asks for a sign, the Lord provides. Finally in 7:9-11 the LORD provides a sign that Gideon has not asked for. Gideon is afraid, but God still use him to deliver his people.
3. Give God the glory
In 7:2 the LORD says to Gideon: ‘You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.’ 7:2. And so God famously reduces Gideon’s army to just 300 men. We imagined the men dividing into two groups as they drink the water from the brook and Gideon hoping God will give him the group of 9,700 men rather than the group of 300.
It is not difficult to see the relevence of this. How easily we say: ‘I have planted this church through this strategy … these missiological principles … through my energy … through my skills.’ I wonder how often God withholds his blessing because he knows we would use his blessing to rob him of his glory.