It is exactly 40 days between Monday, February 22nd and “Good Friday,” April 2nd. The idea and symbolic importance of the number 40 shows up throughout the Old and New Testaments.
- God caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights when judging the earth with a flood. (Gen 7:12)
- Moses encountered the presence of God for 40 days and 40 nights on Mt Sinai on two separate occasions. (Ex 24:18; 34:1-28)
- The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. (Deut 8:2-5)
- Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him. (1 Sam 17:16)
- When Elijah fled from Jezabel, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb where he then “hears the Lord in a whisper.” (1 Kings 19:8-14)
Most famously, Jesus himself was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil for 40 days and 40 nights. (Mat 4:2) After the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus spends 40 days with his disciples showing them many proofs and teaching them about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
So while the exact spiritual parallel of the number 40 is hard to determine, it has been an important number in the lives of God’s people throughout history. I think these will be an important 40 days in our own congregation as well.
The Lifecycle of a Church
I shared this past weekend that our church finds itself at a pivotal point in it’s lifecycle. Everybody defines the stages of the lifecycle differently but essentially there are five phases: launch, growth, maintenance, decline and death. Here’s a graphic using different terms but the same basic idea.
The “launch phase” is characterized by vision and a new seed of faith that either starts the church planting process or motivates a movement of church revitalization. That’s followed by a season of growth that culminates (Lord willing) with a season of sustained health. Overtime, the maintenance of that growth can result in a season of plateau or decline. Without some kind of intervention, that season of decline will eventually result in death. It’s just the nature of any movement.
If you were to ask me where Broadview is on the cycle “right now,” I’d put us in the maintenance phase. In terms of attendance, spiritual vitality, and cultural momentum we’ve jumped between small seasons of growth, plateau and decline for the past two decades. The decades of sustaining some degree of spiritual health has produced a culture of maintenance.
That’s why it’s important for established churches like ours to seek the Lord for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and pray for God to bring about NEW life for the next season of ministry through this local church. We need to seek the Lord for a new seed of faith from which we can dream again and grow into the next chapter of our life together.
The Invitation From Our Lord
I believe that the Lord is inviting us to that kind of spiritual renewal. The Lord actually began to do this kind of work in my own heart this past fall. The emotional rollercoaster of 2020 had left me spiritually depressed and worn out.
The Lord used the events of 2020 to expose so many things on so many fronts. But the result of that pruning process was a renewed desire for God. I don’t know where 2020 left you, but I entered 2021 with a renewed sense of faith and optimism about what God intends to do through Broadview Baptist Church.
I can’t say I have much optimism about some of the other problems our nation is facing. But the degree to which my confidence has waned in worldly solutions is vastly outweighed by my renewed faith that God desires to pour out his Spirit in a fresh way on our congregation.
I envision these prayer meetings as a vehicle for the Lord to do just that. They will be an opportunity for us to pour our heart out to the Lord, to have our eyes opened to his glory and grace and to see his miraculous provision on display through answered prayer.
In essence, the prayer meetings aren’t as much about prayer as they are about the LORD himself. He’s the reward. A hunger and thirst for more of HIM is the reason we’re pursuing these things.
So I hope you’ll join us on February 22nd as we kick off the first one!
Before I close out this update, I wanted to let you know about a request that came across my desk from one of our church members, Robert Williamson. He’s serves as a chaplain for our sherifs department and one of the officers out there had his house burn down this past week and the family lost everything.
His name is Sgt. Wade Schrampfer. He is married with a seven year old son. The only possessions they had remaining were the clothes on their back. We’ve already donated $3,000 through the Family Crisis fund but I wanted to put this out there in the case that anybody wanted to donate personally to this need.
You can give via the Family Crisis fund if you’d like to channel your gift through Broadview. You can also coordinate with Robert directly if you have other ideas. I’m hoping with the support from many churches in the city of Abilene that this family will experience God’s perfect provision in their time of need.
If there’s anyway I can pray for you, please let me know!