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When a Cloud Isn’t a Crowd, by Daniel Brown

Which of these are moves of God? If I want to align myself with what God is doing, which of these streams should I follow? Of course, all of them. But I cannot fully give myself to even most of them—there isn’t enough of me to spread around. It reminds me of soccer: though the untrained eye can’t readily see it, the players have definite positions (and responsibilities).

In my sincere desire to play my best for the Lord, I am tempted to think I ought to play the positions I see others play. A team has many positions; if everyone plays the same one, the team will lose. Being on the same team rarely means playing the same position. Spiritual leaders need encouragement to remember that. About two years ago the Lord gave me one of those I’ll never forget encouragements.

For the same two-day period I received invitations from three different and noteworthy ministries. I would have been eager to follow the momentum that had developed around each of them, and I was frustrated that my schedule forced me to choose which invitation I should accept. All would have been excellent opportunities for me to learn and share, but I couldn’t do all three.

In fairness I must add that none of the three ministries was very close to anything I had been led to be involved with in my ministry, but I want to be open to New Wine, and not miss whatever the Lord wants to do with me. Probably, discouragements related to things He had called me to made me more open to abandon the old course for a new one. So, I asked the Lord which of the three I should pursue.

His answer was quick and clear: None!

Many Rivers, Many Valleys

With the answer came a picture of a small mountain valley through which ran a river. It wasn’t big enough, like the Mississippi, to show up on a world map, nor was it significant enough, like the Feather River, to be identified on a national map. But then again, the people who fish and play in a river rarely think of maps.

Just as our nation has several large, distinct river systems (i.e. the Columbia, the Colorado, the Ohio), so too does the Body of Christ. The approach taken by Seeker Sensitive churches, Cell group churches, Worship and Warfare churches and traditional churches all differ from one another. And even among similar type ministries there can be a wide divergence of mission. For instance, church planting may have a higher priority than local evangelism.

In this picture I could sense three big rivers flowing powerfully in other parts of the country, but they were a long way off. Instantly, I got the point: not all small rivers are tributaries of larger ones; just because the Norweigan newlyweds don’t show up on a macro-level spiritual map doesn’t mean they have missed God moving. In fact, given the Lord’s predisposition to work with insignificant and unimpressive things, I’m inclined to join them more than to join some of the larger-scale movements I see.

I’m not at all denying that God does sovereignly capture the attention of His Church and bring us to times of collective awareness like He did with prophets of old—especially about widespread sin. Spiritually discerning leaders will find themselves drawn again and again to the reality, for instance, of systemic racism in our national church or the plight of the unborn. In His mercy, He will use individuals to heighten our understanding of worship, spiritual warfare, family, etc.

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Category: Living the Faith

About the Author: Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but he is best-known for the sorts of resources that help local church leaders excel in their spiritual assignment. For more about Daniel Brown, see his ministry resources website: CTW. Facebook. Twitter.

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