“ . . . I have placed before you an open door. . . . I know you are tired but you have been faithful.” Revelation 3:8
Pastor Kris Vos used this paraphrase from the instructions from Revelation 3 to the church at Philadelphia as his theme for pastoral encouragement at a recent Church Renewal Lab gathering at Calvin Seminary.
Renewal teams of pastors and lay leaders from 19 churches gathered in the seminary chapel on a Saturday morning to worship and refuel before working with coaches in affinity groups around ministry responsibilities such as worship, outreach, children, or youth.
Vos spoke about truth and grace to a packed chapel of men and women who are committed and determined to help their churches renew themselves around God’s mission.
Vos acknowledged that many of those present had stood before God’s open door of calling: “You have stared failure in the face and said, ‘I would rather die advancing the kingdom than surrender to a lukewarm existence.’”
That’s what stepping through the open door of the divine call of renewal is all about, he said.
Vos told his own story of holy risk when he left a thriving multi-site church in Indiana that he had planted and led for 20 years for a dying church in Florida whose only hope was a relaunch.
This was not an easy door to go through. He had his doubts about leaving Indiana.
But he said God had his grip on him in a way that certainly got his attention. As that grip tightened in an almost unbearable way, he knew that he needed to walk through the open door that led to Florida.
Vos has always believed that church planting was the hardest work he was ever called to do. Standing before these eager listeners, he gave them a dose of reality: renewing a church, re-launching a church is really hard work.
Two years into his Florida call, Vos gave credit to the blessings he and his team have already seen. God has already accomplished much at Sunlight Community Church in Lake Worth, Fla. But what remains to be done yet can be daunting.
He wrapped up his message by describing a pattern of steps he and others have experienced when facing big challenges—challenges each of them may be facing.
It begins with the call, quickly followed by abject terror tamed by the decision to obey, he said.
Then big problems are encountered, more terror, and second thoughts. His audience of church renewers laughed knowingly when Vos noted that these steps can get repeated several times. But heads started nodding yes when Vos closed by underscoring his most important point: deeper faith emerges. and hope is renewed when you stay the course of your call and you give it all you’ve got.