Thursday, March 12, 2015

Never Give Up!

Anyone who has planted a church from zero knows how difficult it is to start a church. Gloversville was no exception. We knew beyond a doubt that God had called us to that particular city in 1977.

When we first arrived in Gloversville, we learned of a large charismatic church in the area. We almost wondered why God had sent us there to start another church. After our first two years, though, that church imploded when unbiblical practices that damaged many people came to light. A few of those families joined our church at that time, but most began attending another church. A few years later, it too closed its doors leaving many stranded with no place to go to church. Many gave up on church altogether.

After three years of meeting in the YMCA, the historical Kingsboro church became available to us. The Sunday we moved into our new location, three of our families decided to leave. That was quite a blow. We struggled for more than a year to rebuild the congregation.

A grandmother named Sara began attending services about that time. We will never forget the Sunday morning she became a member.

After nearly five years, only 14 people were present that hot summer day--the smallest attendance since the earliest days in the history of our young church. As church planters, we were very discouraged.

But Sara stood at the front trembling with anticipation as she joined our church.

Her excitement was infectious. The Holy Spirit moved on my husband, and he prophesied that the church would grow.

And it did!

The next Sunday, 50 people were present; the following Sunday, 75; the next week, 90. Soon, we became a self-supporting, self-governing church with the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

A few weeks prior to Sara joining the church, Bob had been asked to share his testimony at a Full Gospel Businessmen's dinner. Many of the displaced church people were present--some we'd only heard about; others we already knew. They all greeted Bob and me cordially.

We'd heard about Arch and Marion, who had belonged to the two churches that had folded, but we had not met them until that night. Marion had a warm, bubbly personality and mothered everyone. Arch was quiet but blunt. "I'll never set foot in church again," he told Bob.

A week or so later, out of the blue, Bob, who had a God-given sense of timing, told me, "It's time! I'm going to visit Arch and Marion."

They had a wonderful visit, Bob told me, but no promises were made. They were among the first new people to spontaneously show up that Sunday, along with others from the twice-dispersed congregation. Marion became a true "mother in Zion," an early Pentecostal term for a motherly leader in the church. Arch became a board member.

Personal Evangelism class in church fellowship hall in 1984
The funny thing was that everyone who came that Sunday thought everyone else was already a member of our church, so they felt right at home. Apparently, the word spread. The next week more came. Soon, new converts came and became regulars. The attendance never dropped below 150-200 the rest of our time in Gloversville.

We realized that what Gloversville needed was a stable church people could trust. It takes a long time to prove to people that you are stable and trustworthy.

When you construct a building, the work on the foundation below ground takes the longest. Without a firm foundation, the structure would soon collapse. There can be no shortcuts. And so it is in building a strong congregation. Those five years, while often discouraging to us, were necessary! Knowing we were there because God had called us to that city and with His help, we didn't give up.

Christ had been building His Church, just as he promised (Matthew 16:18). And He was building us as pastors too.

God doesn't call His children to do the easy things. Abraham had to leave everything familiar for a land God would show him. Moses faced an impossible challenge in his own strength when God asked him to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and form them into a strong nation. Think of the difficult task David faced. And Elijah, Daniel, Nehemiah, the disciples, just to name a few.

When you know God has called you to do something, never give up. It's been said that the darkest hour is just before dawn.

What is God asking you to do for Him? Go in God's strength and never give up!


  1. AnnaLee, this is a powerful post. I read this yesterday at work while on my lunch break--this is the first I've had a chance to reply. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  2. Hi Elaine, I'm always happy to hear that a post is an encouragement. Thank you for letting me know!