On Three Years and Counting…

by Greg Linscott

Tomorrow morning, I begin my fourth year in ministry here at Faith.

The past three years have seen great joy and great trial. I have made many wonderful friends, and lost some as well. I have seen God change hearts as people respond to His Word, and I have watched hearts harden. There are days I have wondered what in the world I was doing in Skowhegan- and there have been days I couldn’t wait to get back!

Through it all, I am realizing that our God is constant and faithful, though my deceitful heart may falter. I want to take some time to let you rejoice with me- I know some of my readers pray for my family and I, and I appreciate that. It seems oftentimes we focus on the struggles, and forget to share the blessings. Well, here are but a few places we have seen growth:

  • In attenders. When my family and I came to Skowhegan, we had between 25-35 people on a Sunday morning. By God’s grace, we have seen that number grow to 2-3 times that in these three years. Some have come from “transfer” growth- but the sweetest have been to see people who have come to know Christ and are growing in His grace.
  • In maturity. We have sought to be faithful in emphasizing regular opportunities for discipleship, both formal and informal. I have rejoiced to see our church people get involved in teaching and encouraging new converts. We are seeing the process of fruit on display in the lives of our people. I am thankful for the dedication of people in our organized opportunities, and their aggressiveness in extending those opportunities through hospitality throughout the week as well. It is a blessing to experience the “family” bond.
  • In faith. We have had our share of challenges. There have been 2 major situations that threatened the stability of the flock in these three years. In spite of those trials- or perhaps, because of those challenges- we have been forced to know the blessings of reliance on our God. I am rejoicing that He has brought us through comparatively “light afflictions” in order that we might better know the secret of His presence.
  • In our worship practice. I have been grateful to see how our congregation has responded to the introduction of elements designed to create a more deliberate atmosphere of worship. I don’t know of many Independent Baptist churches in Maine that open with the Doxology or the Gloria Patri, sing psalms, and have substantial Scripture readings. Rather than protest, our congregation seems to have embraced it and thrived under it. As so many churches are continuing to develop and pursue a performance-driven approach to worship, I rejoice in a congregation that responds when prompted to be a church that is driven by participation– actively engaging in the worship of their God.

Please understand- this is not a personal boast. It’s not like we don’t have our problems. But so often, in the blogosphere, we tend to rant and rave about the things we don’t like going on around us. I wanted to reflect and rejoice- not in my own accomplishments- for there is little I can take credit for- and much I can be blamed for! Instead, I wish to express my gratitude to my Lord for what He has done in our midst, and ask that He continue to accept our weak efforts and use them for His glory.

What has He done for you?

Disdain, not, Lord, our meaner song,
Who praise Thee with a faltering tongue.
To Thee may all our thoughts arise
A true and ceaseless sacrifice.

-Ger­hard Ter­stee­gen