What do you expect to see once you have spoken God’s Word to others? What is the desired outcome? Do we want physical response? Do we desire to see people pray? Repent? Make decisions to follow Christ?
As you enter into a church planting context, it is vital to have appropriate expectations of what will happen when you faithfully proclaim God’s Word. This means not having unrealistic expectations based upon past results. This also means not having zero expectations or small expectations. Take a look at this text to glean insight of how to properly look at the expected results of Proclaiming God’s Word:
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city. (Acts 8:4-8 ESV)
These folks had been scattered…that sounds a lot like Church Planting. When the winds of persecution slowed they landed…all over the territory. When they landed, they went about preaching The Word. Perfect example for us to follow as a ministry model. Ask God to send you and preach when you get there. That’s simple. We get an individual example of what this looked like with Philip. In that, we see a great set of ‘results’ from preaching that should allow us to place appropriate expectations on what to hope and pray for when we bring God’s Word!
First, the crowds paid attention. For some of us, that would be enough. We often wonder if that is happening. God promises that His Word doesn’t return void so if you will preach it then folks will pay attention even if they don’t look like it. Think teenager.
Next, any spirit other than God’s Holy Spirit will be upset even to the point of experiencing the same type of scattering that brought you to the place in the first place. That’s cool – evil will flee from the proclamation of The Word. Now, this may not always look positive on the outside and could even make your attendance more transient than you would like. Be faithful to proclaim and leave the metric of attendance to the One that builds His Church.
Thirdly, you can expect God’s Spirit to work in the lives of others as it did you when He sent you. Philip saw the lame healed. Who knows what God may do but you should expect He will do something special. Opening spiritual eyes and loosing spiritual chains are mighty miracles that will glorify God. Lord, let it be!
Lastly, for this text’s example, your proclaiming of the Gospel should leave a footprint of joy upon the city where you serve. It did then and will now. Proclaim Him faithfully and proclaim Him with the joy of salvation in your own life and see that joy spread! Your vision of what to expect when you bring The Word should, at minimum, include these things. Let’s be careful not to expect anything unbiblical.
I have seen some of all of this and I want more. I want my expectations to be biblical and right. I bet you do too.