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Ken Schaap shares some thoughts on his next season of ministry



In October of last year, God spoke to me pretty clearly.  After a time of prayer, I heard Him say, “It’s time to go home.” 


I had just completed a book about all that God has done in my life over the last few years, and it felt like the conclusion of the book was also a conclusion to this season. 


I wasn’t very excited about the word.  The Lord has given us a beautiful life here in Ohio.  Our family and ministry have flourished here.  While I have known for the last two years that some significant change was coming, this wasn’t exactly what I expected. With the word from the Lord came some understanding.  He wanted me to take some time to rest, then to continue helping people find healing and renewal through the power of the Holy Spirit, and finally, to pastor again soon. 


I believe God still speaks today, but I’ve learned that every word we think we’re hearing from God must be measured by the Scriptures and submitted to other believers for their reviews. After ten days of nightly prayer at our church and after several conversations with people inside and outside the church, I felt confident that this was the Lord.  


To be totally transparent, I didn’t feel confident about anything else.  When should I move?  Are my kids going to be okay? What about income? What about the future of The Father’s House?  The stories of heroes of the faith walking by faith can seem glamorous as you look back.  But when you live your own story, you feel anything but heroic.  I have had moments of fear, uncertainty, foolishness, and confusion nearly every day.  As I read the Scriptures though, I’m reminded that I’m in good company.  Everyone who lives by faith has had to battle doubt, and all that comes with it.  


I’m a radical believer in following Jesus by faith.  I’m also aware of how many people have thought they were doing that but got it wrong.  If you’re going to get out of the boat to walk on water, you better be sure that it really is Jesus who has called you.  Only He can keep you from being overwhelmed by the waves.  


I sat down with the leadership team of The Father’s House and began the process of transition. I met with the members of our church and shared what I felt God was saying.  We shed a lot of tears.  We went through the awkwardness of transition.  We experienced love and kindness from people who have become family to us.  


As I’ve done my best to obey the “what” from the Lord, I’ve been listening to Him for insight as to the “why.”  In hopes of encouraging any of my friends who are walking in between seasons, I thought I’d share. 


First, God is pruning me and pruning the church that I helped to start. God is a careful Gardener.  When branches become tangled, they can grow together to a place where they are more dependent on each other than on their original source.  When this happens, they are in danger of becoming unfruitful.  It’s so easy for a pastor to find his spiritual identity in his ministry.  It’s freeing to realize I don’t have to pastor to be loved by Jesus or to hear from the Holy Spirit.  My identity isn’t “pastor.” It’s “beloved.”  Anything else is less.  Beloved Son is all I want to be, and everything I do has to flow from that.  Ironically, becoming beloved is rare.  When you discover it, it draws people to you.  When you share it, it drains you.  When you get drained and distracted, you can lose it for yourself.  That’s when the Gardener Father steps in and prunes you.  Over the last 5 years, I’ve conversed with dozens of pastors and hundreds of Christians who have admitted privately to me that they don’t believe God loves them.  I’ve spent myself convincing them and praying with them, helping them recover Abba’s Love.  In recent months, I’ve felt a slight coldness, an ache in my heart that the ministry can’t satisfy.  Eventually, I realized that God wanted me to strip it all away—Ministry, office, Sunday sermons, counseling, etc. —and just be husband to Candace, father to my four, and beloved to Abba.  How quickly the coldness is replaced by warmth when these core relationships are nurtured. I’ve been pruned, cut away from my comfort zone.  God’s got me right where He wants me.

It’s also easy for a church to become more “about the church” rather than about Jesus.  When God’s people refuse His pruning, they become distorted. When a bride loves herself more than the Groom, she becomes a “bridezilla.”  She becomes entitled, insensitive to others, overly sensitive of her image, and possessive about meaningless things.  Ultimately, she begins to hurt the groom in her vain attempt to prepare for their wedding.  

I’m thankful that The Father’s House is a group of people who really love Jesus.  Jerod’s new sermon series is called “Jesus School.”  Go check it out.  Those people love Jesus. May it always be that way. 


Second, God is qualifying me and refining me.  Paul wrote and I paraphrase, “One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase.”  It’s easy to stay too long somewhere, insisting that you must do it all and have it all.  I have pioneered something; now, I must relinquish control and let another build it.  God will get the glory.  That sounds good, but frankly, my flesh wants some glory.  I’d love to plant, build, surpass expectations, and prove all my doubters wrong. The problem with that is my biggest doubter is me.  I know too much about myself to ever let me enjoy my success.  So I must die…spiritually, that is.  


That leads me to my third discovery: Resurrection.  I must die to ambition and arise in Christ, doing what He wants and dying to what I want.  As I watch Him get glory, I find a satisfaction that my flesh can’t take away.  I love Jesus…so much more than I ever thought possible, but I have a need to grow so much more in my love for Him.  He is worthy.  

In order to bear fruit, a seed must die.  In order to enter a new season, the last one must end.  In order to experience more of Christ, there must be less of me. This is the principle of resurrection: Death—burial—grief.  Empty tomb—confusion—disappointment. Face-to-face encounter— heart on fire—revival.    Eventually, the revival dies, and the process starts all over again.  


My season of rest is almost over.  Then I’ll do some travelling, visiting churches and encouraging them to have the life of prayer and fellowship in the Spirit that God promises in His Word and to settle for nothing less.  My list is short.  My Baptist friends are weirded out by my continuationist beliefs.  My charismatic friends find me too Baptist.  It’s okay.  I’m beloved. That’s enough.  


 


Thanks for letting me ramble.  If you’re a glutton for punishment, my first book is coming out soon.  Stay tuned.




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