Early last year my wife was out shopping in Melbourne and noticed a picture in an opportunity (charity) shop. It was a large red picture with huge bold white writing which read WHATEVER YOU'RE THINKING, THINK BIGGER.
At that particular time we were facing huge battles and it just seemed to say the right thing - it felt like it was from the heart of God to us, that what we were experiencing was not the big picture God really wanted us to see, but He was asking us to raise our gaze and have a greater vision of what He was going to do. That picture is still with us now we are in Sydney and the statement still remains as real as it did back in Melbourne.
You see, in December we moved to an extremely affluent area of Sydney, the Northern Beaches. This is a small peninsular north of the Harbour Bridge and a place where the average house price is now over $1million (AUD). It is an amazing place to live and our local church, Grace City Church, sits right in the heart of our local community in Dee Why. However, because it is such a sought after area, we have really had to trust God for every bit of provision and sometimes we have thought to ourselves 'how are we going to do this?' We have had to believe God for the bigger picture every single week we've needed to pay rent!
But to be honest, this is not the real reason why our picture is so significant. The place we live and work is what it is and we always know that God will provide for our bills and meals because that's just what He does. No, the real aspect to this picture about believing God for bigger things is all to do with how people around us view the church in the Northern Beaches and what people are expecting God to do in such a spiritually dry area.
Where we live people think they have all they need. They have the beach, the gyms, the coffee houses, the parks, the sports and the huge city. The need for church isn't really there becuse there are too many other things to do and so, even for regular attenders of church, the social and sporty distractions take people away from God's house and then it becomes a battle for the church to really make an impact. People in the Northen Beaches are, well, just too busy.
And this is a shame. Not only would it be amazing to see more people added to the local church but this area could also have such a massive spiritual influence over the rest of Sydney because of its high status and appeal. If people knew the church was making an emergance and starting to impact community I am absolutely convinced that things would be very, very different.
So what's my bigger thinking for this area? Well it's this. My God can do anything. He can change the hardest of hearts and cause entire communities to worship Jesus because I've seen him do it all over the world. Take David Yonggi Cho's church in South Korea, for instance. This country is a very hard nation to build something to do with Jesus and yet his church alone has 830,000 attendees! And that's just one I want to mention. So if he can do all of this, my expectations for the Northern Beaches are massive!
I am expecting that one day the church will take priority over social and sporty pursuits; that it will shape and win the next generation for Jesus and will have far reaching conseqences for the rest of Sydney. I am expecting to see people added daily to our church community and healed of all kinds of sicknesses. I am expecting poverty to be wiped out in all areas of the Northern Beaches as generosity from the saints overflows and meets the needs of those who have nothing. I am expecting people from all over the world to be coming to Sydney to be trained in mission and impacting their own communities wherever they are from. And above all, I am expecting all of this to start right from the church I belong to. Why can't it happen?
The thing is this. If everyone had this level of expectancy then all of this would happen, because there would be no doubt in anyone's mind that it couldn't. Faith is all about believing for the unseen - I mean every Christian who has ever given their lives to Jesus are doing so because they believe it to be true and not because they have actually seen Jesus face to face. If this is the case then believing for God to save hundreds and thousands of lives is not that big a deal, especially to the Creator of the Universe.
I believe in Jesus because He has become my friend and my brother and I feel His love through the Holy Spirit every day. I get to talk with Him regularly and I get to partake in all the goodness He has for me, just because He loved me first. So if this is my own conviction and I understand that all who hear this message can receive this same level of love in all its abundance, then I have to believe that God can make this a reality for everyone I talk to about Him. There is no doubt in my mind about this.
So, my challenge to anyone reading this and thinking how they can make any sort of impact in their church is this; come on a Sunday expecting God to break in. Expectation brings hope and hope leads to faith and faith can move mountains. If faith can move mountains then it can certainly move communities forward into God's promises.
The great thing is, is you can begin now. You can start to pray daily for your church leaders. You can intercede on their behalf and ask God to do a new thing in them and also a new thing in you. You can also make a huge impact on your church by getting there on time and attending the prayer meetings before the service. You see if you go to church with no expectancy, how can God operate in the way some others want Him to? This level of expectancy requires everyone to be on the same page and believing God for big things. Because after all, He is a great big God and so when you ask Him for big things, He is absolutely in His element.
To finish, my prayer is this. That as you have been reading this, your faith has started to stir. Even if you don't live in Sydney's Northern Beaches this could so be for your own local community. You have the ability by just praying and asking God for the bigger picture to literally change the cause of HIStory. I am personally believing that God is going to radically shake up and shift my own church into a new dimension that the area it is in has never seen before. I am believing this because I am praying it. Are you?