As church planters and ministry leaders, we have a strong desire to show the world how God works through us. We see everyday miracles happen so often that we can’t help but to want to tell everyone about the works God has done. We want to be able to explain that what God is doing is bigger than anything we could do on our own. However, we need to make sure we are careful and use the principles of John 3:30 while building our ministry so that we can make sure to put aside our egos and our wanting to be known in the church world.
John 3:30 says “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
It is easy for us to try to think of how God works through us based on our wants and our dreams. Yet sometimes we can forget that we are working for a larger purpose that is beyond that.
We can say that we want to follow God and complete His mission, but without completely understanding God’s will, we tend to fight the intentions God has for his people. We can’t decide how God uses us, but we can say “yes” to how He wants to use us.
John 3:30 comes from when John the Baptist was speaking of the greatness of Jesus Christ and how to follow Him. The idea behind John 3:30 is that to follow Jesus, no matter how hard it is, we must decrease our prestige, our pride, and our wants so God’s mission can be bigger. It is okay if we feel small sometimes because if we continue to decrease, we give room for God (and his plan) to increase.
The idea of this makes me think of the first Exponential conference that I went to. It was right around the time that we were starting Hope Church. I remember the enormity of the space as well as how small I felt in comparison. It is easy to feel insignificant, isn’t it?
How God Works Through Us
In 2010, I was on the staff of a large church in New York City. I was part of a succession plan to become the next senior pastor there. Here it was, my dreams were coming true. And then in 2011, I submitted my resignation. It was a shock to our senior leader. It was also a shock to many of the elders, leaders, and pastors on staff.
They knew that 2010 was a time in my life that I struggled through a significant season of depression. During that season, I spoke to different counselors and spiritual leaders about what God was stirring in my soul. I remember not understanding why I was struggling with this when it was always a dream of mine to be the senior pastor at this large church. I couldn’t understand the stirring in my soul to plant a church instead.
Because I went through that season of depression, I realized that there were two reasons why I was staying at that church. Number one was prestige, and number two was money. Those are two awful reasons to be a pastor! After I noticed that those were the reasons, I resigned.
The call to do more happens when we make much of Jesus and less of ourselves.
How to fight feeling insignificant
These were large issues for me though. Every time I thought about leaving to start a new church, I thought “Why would I leave this gig to be a nobody?” I wondered why I should leave to be a church planter when I could stay at this church and be a “somebody”. However, the call to do more happens when we make much of Jesus and less of ourselves. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about John 3:30 and how God could do big things if I learned to decrease my ego.
Then I read Psalm 33, which has a part that reads, “no king is saved by the size of their army”.
I knew I had a calling to mobilize people. I knew that I needed to start a church where we could show how God works through us when we prepare and send people to different parts of society. But what does it mean for us to use people to do more in every nook and cranny of society?
Mobilizing people in every nook and cranny of society is to use John 3:30
The truth is, I actually love big churches. I love their verve for outreach, their heart for the lost and their way of excellence. And I love having resources, nice facilities, and all that good stuff. Yet I realized as much as I love larger churches, I actually love smaller neighborhood churches more. And I started to dream to myself, okay, well God, if I’m not meant to lead a large church, what if we were to start a community that was missional?
Now we have eight churches and we have helped to start nine churches. Each church has about 80 to 300 people. Once we reach a certain number, we send out a group to mobilize other people in a new way. Sometimes it seems like we are just making a small dent in a large city. However, we are part of the greater story God is doing in New York.
So if we are wondering how God works through us, we need to remember John 3:30. We need to remember that whether we feel like a “nobody” or a “somebody” if we say yes to God we are always a somebody to Him.
*adapted from Drew Hyun main stage message Exponential Orlando 2019