It was a peaceful night outside… I laid in my bed at midnight listening to some worship music (Never Lost – Rita Springer & Catherine Mullins) on repeat. Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am a repeater – by accident and on purpose. This night, it was on purpose. I even jumped on Instagram to post a picture about the song. About 15 mins go by and something shift in my heart and mind. I was completely discontent with just about everything. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and that I needed to get away. For me, my favorite times with Jesus is when I drive and it’s just him and I. I jumped in my car and start driving while still listening to the worship song on repeat. As I started to drive from my house, it started to lightly rain and drizzle. I ended up at a Walmart. It was here that forever changed my night.
It was about 12:30 am, August 16th, 2017… and I screamed at God. In prayer, I began to explicitly and passionate scream about my situation and how I felt. I laid everything that was in and on my heart. Every feeling, emotion, doubt, brokenness, hurt and concern. I admitted my struggle with not feeling God near in times of uncertainty, lack of faith with seemingly unanswered prayers, feelings of tiredness (mentally, spiritually and physically). It was after this moment that I felt a nudge of the Spirit. I begin singing the song I was listening to as a declaration over my life. The chorus of the song says this:
Wind, listen to the sound of power on my lips
Jesus has broken the curse, He has never lost a battle
Who are you great mountain, that you should not bow low
Jesus defeated the darkness, He has never lost a battle
Immediately started to cry as I began to sing these words not just out of my mouth and heart… but from my spirit. My lamentation slowly became my praise. After about listening to the song all the way through in silence, I changed the song to King of My Heart. I started praising Jesus for the victory before it happens as well as thanking him for what he is doing in my life and what he has already done. I listened to this song two more times before changing the song to a Spontaneous Medley by Daniel Bashta. While leaving from the Walmart parking lot, I felt at peace and was able to go to sleep when I got home. It was probably the best night’s rest in a long time. Fast-forward to 6:30 pm that same day…
My pastor at the church calls an impromptu prayer meeting that he felt the Lord whispering for the church and what was next for our context of ministry. I went in, tired and hungry for the Spirit of God and natural food! I went to the altar just to kneel and sit as I soak in God’s presence. This song that I have never heard, Extravagant by Bethel Music came on. As I was praying and listening to the words I begin to get teary-eyed. One of my best friends came over and just passionately prayed over me hope, strength and fulfilled promises. The song changed to I Need You More by Kim Walker-Smith. I haven’t heard this song in years, so I started to sing it out loud. My pastor came over as I was just sitting down on the floor and laid hands on me. He asked if I would stand and begin to speak life into me. He prayed over me hope, fulfilled promises and endurance for the journey. While all of this was going on, I received text messages from two other best friends who responded to my earlier text about prayer and my experience the night before.
I said all this to say… this journey with Christ is not always easy or even pretty but it is worth it. We have to be vulnerable with Jesus and others we trust. God doesn’t grow apathetic or emotionally disconnected to our situations. God is not easily offended when we approach him with our cares, cries, laughter or even screams. He can take our issues! This was what made King David so near and dear to God, that God called him a man after his own heart. David gave everything to God – good, bad and ugly. In seasons of good & joy, seasons of weakness & failures and seasons of uncertainty, David honored God with being vulnerable and honest. This is what it means to be in an authentic relationship.
As I am writing this is what the Spirit of the Lord is saying:
The voice of fear, doubt, and hopelessness may be screaming loud in your mind but the voice of Jesus whispers a louder word in your heart and spirit. His voice says you are loved, not forgotten and filled with hope. His voice says “I have never lost a battle and I won’t lose one now. I will fight for you and you will overcome – just as I have overcome the world. Keep believing, keep enduring and keep declaring… my faithful son and daughter!”
I always get asked the question… You know, the “Does Numbers Matter?”, or “How do I increase our SM numbers? or even “Spiritual Growth over Numerical Growth” questions. A few months ago, I address this during a quick Q&A session I did on Twitter and my blog. Decided to repost since these questions are some of the biggest things Youth Pastors are wondering…
Phillip C. from VA asks: “Hi, I am a Youth Pastor in VA. I have a quick question… What do I do when the attendance starts to dwindle down? Like, we usually average about 75 students weekly but our ministry team has notice that has decrease to about 40-45 students. Any suggestions?”
— PRAY, COMPEL & PREACH…
Don’t get discouraged if the numbers are low… don’t get cocky/arrogant when the numbers are high. Everything has a divine season.. a time of reaping and of sowing. This maybe your ministry time of sowing… sow well! Praying for you and the ministry as you accomplish the vision set by God. Blessings!
Alex T. from TX asks: “Numerical Growth vs. Spiritually Growth.. What’s your take on it, biblically?”
– BOTH… We need both. Jesus calls us to grow spiritually and numerically. When we grow Spiritually as a church/ministry, we have no choice but to grow numerically. God believes in both wholeheartedly growing together. What good is it to be physically strong (large church/ministry) but mentally (maturity/knowledge) weak/depraved OR to be physically weak and mentally strong. One is the “dumb jock” while the other is the “skinny nerd.” There needs to be balance and this is what it means to have healthy/thriving church/ministry. Regardless if you are called to minister to 15 or to 15k people… you’re still fulfilling your purpose GOD has given you. The reward is equal, the risk is equal, the faith and work is equal. Never allow anyone to diminish what God is doing in your ministry and never try to be something you are not. Jesus preached to the multitudes, then he preach to the 12, then he preached to the 3. He even preached to the 1 at times. If you grow spiritual, you have no choice but to grow numerical. (Luke 2:40,52; Act 2:42-47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:1, 6:7, 9:31, 11:21-24; 3 John 1:2)
Compel, Do Numbers Matter, God, Healthy Churches, Healthy Ministry, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Luke 14:15-24, Numerical Growth vs. Spiritually Growth, Prayer, Purpose, Spiritual Growth, student ministry, youth pastor
It has been a little over a month since I moved to Shelbyville, Tennessee to accept the call (with much prayer & a step of faith) to serve as Student Ministries Pastor at Gateway Church. Everything here has been so surreal as to be welcomed with open arms, and the genuine love and support from the parents, leaders, students and church. I am completely overwhelmed at what the Lord has done so far since being here a month. We have seen students saved, set free and filled with the Holy Spirit. My second week here, we prayed for our entire congregation and saw over 20 people received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We are in a shifting as a church to go to the Next Level in what God want to do in us and through us. And I couldn’t have come at a better time as we move forward together as a church. I am thankful for the Student Ministry team the Lord is building here and for the vision that we have. As I sit here typing this blog, I am excited and expectant to see this vision and dream become reality in these wonderful young peoples lives. I cannot shake the scripture in Luke 8:40 and Habakkuk 3:2 (our vision/heart); that in our expectancy for Jesus, He would renew/revive the great deeds & his fame in our day… in our generation remembering mercy.
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. + Luke 8:40
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.+ Habakkuk 3:2
Here’s how you can pray:
COREY GIBSON, Gateway Church, God, Habakkuk 3:2, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Luke 8:40, Pastor Corey Gibson, Prayer, Shelbyville, Shelbyville Tennessee, Student Ministries Pastor, student ministry, Student Pastor, Tennessee, vision