“It’s too hard, I can’t do it!”
“But you haven’t even tried!”
“That’s because it’s impossible!”
Ever had that kind of conversation? The person you are speaking with absolutely refuses to even try to do something because it seems too difficult. While they are usually frustrating, those conversations can become amusing when the person begins to assert that something other people have done or are doing is impossible. I remember being told by one of my sons that peddling a bike simply cannot be done, while his sister was peddling her own bike in circles around him.
I remember hearing a presentation quite some time ago from an expert in church planting who insisted that if you are going to plant a new church, it simply has to be what is called seeker-sensitive and resemble the surrounding culture more than anything else. He maintained that you can’t start successful old-school, conservative, Presbyterian churches in our society it is impossible because people will not accept all the change and counter-cultural baggage that happens in such a church. In fact one big name in the PCA has essentially written a highly influential essay saying the same thing. In a consumer culture, we are told, people will insist on having only that which they are comfortable with. Well guys, I’ve been involved in two “impossible” Old-School church plants, one in Pennsylvania and one in North Carolina and both of them still exist after many years and continue to grow and thrive by God’s grace so apparently the impossible is possible after all.
It’s not impossible to ride bikes or plant old school Presbyterian churches, it just seems too difficult to even start, and therefore we upgrade our assessment to the level of impossibility and reconcile ourselves to not doing it. When you do that though, the problem isn’t the task, the problem is you.
Planting Old School churches is a little like the conquest of Canaan, the task seems impossible, the alien and hostile culture insurmountable, and compromise the only solution. We should be willing to admit that if we advance in our own power we will indeed fail, but if we proceed in the name of the Lord, clinging to His promises, and obeying His commands He will bless our endeavors. He is not fickle, He doesn’t change, if He has called us to “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it” and promised blessing to those who will do so, those promises are still good. The problem is not with the promises or power behind them, the problem is that like the Israelites over time we have become pragmatists and have ceased to believe that such things are possible.
“In spite of our professions, we are in fact barely supernaturalists. Again and again our Lord has to remind us that God is not the prisoner of human odds, that his promises are at least as real as the iron plating on Canaanite Chariots, but that we will see little of His power until we venture out into the way of obedience, until we trust his promise enough to walk in it.” – Dale Ralph Davis.