Five Christian leaders tell what God did when they took a surprising step of faith.
By Greg Lee
My riskiest move ever? It was 20 years ago. God was faithful, and that step established a way of life and a way of leading that has stayed with me ever since.
I was 21 years old, six months from getting married, and five months from graduation at Lincoln Christian College. I was from a small town and liked it. I wanted to preach (anything but youth ministry)! I wanted a full-time job to support my new family.
Then I met John Wasem.
John had just started a new church, and it was experiencing unpredicted growth—in Chicagoland. The church needed more help—in student ministry. They could offer only $9,000—for a part-time position. He offered me that job and, of course, I turned it down.
It was logical to say no, but the truth is I sensed this opportunity was from God. I loved the vitality and outward focus of brand-new churches like this. I really wanted (and needed) to work under a seasoned leader like John. I care about lost people deeply, and Chicagoland had unlimited opportunity for impact.
Then, a few weeks later, John asked me out to lunch again. This time he asked if I would come work full-time, but only get paid part-time! It was a crazy request. I responded with an unreasonable answer: “Yes!”
I knew God was in this, but it was hard to explain how. It wasn’t the “big church” job some people around me were hoping I would land. I would humbly need to ask friends and family for financial support just to get by at this new church—and then hope the church would grow and be able to support me when that ended. And it would mean my soon-to-be wife couldn’t finish her college degree.
But that single step of faith—and God’s faithfulness to us—set the course for how to live ever since. We never again wanted to construct our lives without major elements that require trust in God. The list below represents steps of faith God has led us to since this risk. And more importantly, it represents his faithfulness.
Steps of Faith
With John Wasem, we declared that our church would not move into a building of our own until we had started another new church. That’s crazy when you are setting up and tearing down for church each weekend—but it was also right for the kingdom.
That step of faith created a culture that has resulted in Suncrest—the church I now serve—starting more than 30 churches, and those churches starting 150 more!
Jenny and I tithed from the beginning (thanks Mom and Dad!), but once the church could pay me a full salary, we started giving at least 20 percent of our income to kingdom work. It didn’t add up in our budget, but God was faithful.
Years later, our church took the same step of faith—giving 20 percent of our offerings away instead of 10 percent. Our team embraced leaner spending so we could start new churches and live out a deep commitment to the impoverished of our region. In the shift, God has blessed our church with its fastest season of growth ever.
We risked becoming a multisite church before most anyone else was doing it. Frankly, that one didn’t work out. After lots of years and money, one of the toughest decisions we made was to go back to being one campus. It meant disappointing people and admitting we may have taken a risk where we got ahead of God. I think it is healthy to admit it . . . and then keep taking risks.
Six years ago, I knew our church had lots of unchurched people who had not defined their faith in baptism. Our elders prayed, and God led us to have a service asking people to make the decision on the spot—in their clothes and all, when they had not planned on it. We laid it on the line, and I feared huge embarrassment if no one responded, especially since I jumped in the baptistery first.
That day, God moved like never before at our church, and nearly 100 people came up to experience death, burial, and resurrection in Jesus. That day transformed our church to be bolder in asking people to define their new faith in baptism. Since then more than 550 people have taken the same step.
A member of our staff recently told me, “You aren’t a risk-taker by nature. But you do trust God.” The first part is definitely true. I only hope the second part is.
I have seasons where I hesitate and retreat to trusting myself. Nothing supernatural happens. Then I remember God’s faithfulness of 20 years ago and think it’s time to trust . . . to risk . . . again.
Greg Lee serves as lead pastor with Suncrest Christian Church, St. John, Indiana.