I recently had the opportunity to write a post for the Church Planting website, “Stories of Sifted” by Exponential. I wrote about how being in the same church for 20 years has sifted me in so many ways, and what an amazing journey it has been.
Sifted for 20 Years.
My husband, Rob, and I have served twenty fabulous years at Granger Community Church. Being a leader in a smaller church of about 200 believers when I was 19 years old, to a mega-church, 5000 attendees on the weekends at 38 years old, I have learned that there is constant sifting. A repeated pattern of sift, crash, adjust, win, sift, crash, adjust, win…
This constant sifting has made me strong in ways I could have never known otherwise. The thought of 20 years passing has caused me to sit back and reflect on my sifting experience. Here are 3 things I’ve learned along the way:
Growing Up in a smaller church turned mega:
I have learned to love people if they stay or if they go. Each of these “family members” has taken a piece of my heart with them when they have decided to leave GCC. When they were here, I loved them deeply. When they left, it didn’t stop. It hurts when friends leave. The awkwardness of someone listing you as their “sister” on Facebook, and then un-friending you when they disagree with something the Church has done makes me want to both laugh and cry. Seeing these friends out in public places where they avert their eyes, pretending they didn’t see you…just hurts.
Lots of people leave for positive reasons, and it’s great to bless them as they go on their way. We celebrate with them as they take their next step. Regardless of how they leave, there is a sort of lingering sadness that really doesn’t go away.
I’ve learned to make room for others. Like all church plants, in the early days, I was up with the roosters setting up chairs, sharpening pencils, stuffing envelopes, running the drama team, writing media scripts, teaching…whatever had to be done, I did it.
As the church grew in numbers and the quality of all these things naturally progressed, I was sifted out of jobs of the writer, actor, teacher, small group leader. I became just one in a crowd. Though difficult, it was the right thing for the sake of the greater good of GCC. If I were still the drama leader, we would be doing mimes to Petra songs wearing white gloves.
I’ve had to step outside the four walls of the church and use my gifts elsewhere. This has been a difficult transition, but I’ve found some amazing outlets for writing and photography that fill me up and pour me out at the same time.
I’ve learned that longevity is a beautiful thing. To witness the passing of time from here has been a phenomenal ride that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Long term dreams Rob and I dreamed together when we were just teeny-boppers have become reality before our eyes. We’ve seen God’s hand in transforming our entire community through the presence of His people as they bring Jesus wherever they go.
I have seen children grow up, find Jesus, follow his call into ministry, find true love, and marry sweethearts. Now they are raising families of their own, living out their lives that have been shaped by the influence of our leadership. This is truly remarkable to watch.
Through all this sifting through twenty years of ministry, I can honestly say I’m glad we stuck around. The strength we have gained from longevity is a solid foundation we are both proud to be a part of.