By Gary Rohrmayer, President of Church Multiplication Partners
Twenty years ago, I left the pastoral ministry of the local church. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about going back into the pastorate. If I could be both a regional leader and a pastor of a local church, I would do it in a heartbeat.
This year, I am celebrating the twenty-year mark of serving with Converge MidAmerica. When I entered this ministry, a well-known church planting leader told me, “Gary, remember that movements are messy! They are filled with all sorts of victories, setbacks and defeats. Don’t let the messiness of church planting and regional ministry distract you from moving forward in God’s mission.”
Taking three steps forward and two steps back happens because we are in a battle—a spiritual battle of epic proportions! The Apostle Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) The Apostle Peter wrote these words to young leaders, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) The enemy wants to not only attack churches, but he wants to destroy the future of the church and its young leaders.
I have seen those spiritual attacks come in a variety of stages: 1) The enemy tries to discourage the leader. 2) If he cannot discourage them, then he tries to distract them from God’s mission with all sorts of good, well-meaning activities. 3) If he cannot distract them, then he tries to derail them. The enemy tries to derail through a variety of temptations that attack the spiritual, moral, ethical and relational fiber of a leader. 4) If the enemy cannot derail them, then he seeks to disqualify them from ministry by destroying their soul, their ministry and all those touched by their ministry. 5) Being disqualified is the way the enemy ultimately devours us in ministry.
Not only do the setbacks and defeats come because we are in a spiritual war, but they also come to keep the leaders humble, broken and surrendered. The South Korean minister David Yonggi Cho wrote, “The lesson of brokenness is not a popular one today. People only want to know how to be successful, yet, I have learned that success does not come by learning easy formulas or principles. We must learn the secret of brokenness, which gives us more grace. It is that grace that grants us ultimate success.”
The Apostle James also addressed this issue of brokenness: “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:7-10).
Brokenness keeps us from trusting in our success. Brokenness keeps us clinging to our Savior. Brokenness keeps us completely surrendered.
Over the last twenty years, I can say that I have experienced more of the grace of God. It is only by the grace of God that I have been able to keep my head in the game of this type of ministry, and it will only be by the grace of God that we will see His Kingdom expanded and reach our vision of 400 Strong Churches by 2027.
So we praise God not only for the victories, but we also rejoice in the setbacks and even defeats!
I am humbled and honored to serve our pastors and churches in this role. I look forward to experiencing more and more of God’s grace in the messiness of ministry.