Why THE Church Must Be Bigger Than YOUR Church

Sitting this week at the first board meeting of the Shine Like Sable Foundation, I was struck by a fact I don’t remember often enough.

The church must be bigger than my church.

That is, God’s work through his people is larger than God’s work through my congregation. All of us would admit this as we thought about church plants on the other side of town or missions established the other side of the globe. But I’m thinking about something sometimes more difficult to embrace: The work of the church in my community must be bigger than the work of my congregation here.

Shine Like Sable is the foundation started by Scott and Holly Gibson after the tragic death of their 10-year-old daughter, Sable, this February. Her spirit of seeking to help others will be continued and multiplied as the foundation finds ways to help other children in need.

As I thought about the work of the foundation, I jotted down several conclusions.

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Trevor DeVageComment

In a few short weeks I start my annual study break. Last year I wrote about it, and I thought it would be good to refresh us all on why it is imperative to take breaks.

It was my first Sunday on the platform after being away for a month last year. “We could totally tell you were fresh and ready to get back,” somebody said to me that morning. And they were right.

Soon after I started here, our elders instituted this annual break. “If you’re going to be in this ministry for the long haul, you can’t do 50 weeks a year, even 40,” they told me. “You need time to be alone, to rest, to be with your family.”

I’m so thankful for their wisdom.

While taking time for rest is important for anyone in any job, a break like mine is especially vital for lead pastors. Here’s why.

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Trevor DeVageComment

I’ve discovered my life will be richer and my ministry more effective if I set goals for myself. I’m talking about personal goals, in addition to the goals leaders are setting for our congregation.

But setting the goals is just the beginning. Checking myself against my goals is key, of course, and June 1 prompted me to look again at the goals I set in January. Let me share them with you and tell you why each one is important to me.

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My daughter turned 14 last week, and no, she is not dating. She’s not even that interested in boys—yet.

But as her mother and I hosted her birthday overnighter—all girly and giggly with several of her middle school friends—I realized again that she will have a first date. And I remembered a list my friend Chris Roussin shared with me earlier this spring.

Chris has ministered with Lincoln Heights Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona, since 2010. It’s an old church (started in 1885) with new growth, but Chris’s list wasn’t about that.

He shared five P’s he discussed with the guy who took his daughter on her first date. I love his list! In fact, I’m ready to deliver all five P’s to my daughter’s first date, too. The more I think about each point, the more I know what I want to say under each one.

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Trevor DeVageComment

Handcuff Jesus? You may think that’s a preposterous idea. Why would anyone want to handcuff Jesus? And if they did succeed at that, what would it accomplish? After all, he has strength greater than any super hero. Can a human being really subdue the Lord of the universe with anything as simple as handcuffs?

 Before you answer, remember it has been tried before. Jon Weece, a preacher friend from Kentucky, got me thinking about this when he tweeted the following:

 Peter cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus put it back on. Someone dared to put handcuffs on those powerful hands.


And still today some try to bind the hands of Jesus. Those who seized Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane had no idea who they were arresting. But too many times today it’s his followers who limit the work of Jesus with the handcuffs they use on him.

He allowed the soldiers to take him, because this was all a part of God’s plan. But he arose from the grave to show that nothing can bind him. The irony is that he had the power to stop all of this, yet restrained himself to show us the power of redemption and resurrection in our lives.

That’s still true today. The handcuffs we place on Jesus will not stop him from doing his work in our world. I see this true in at least four ways.

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Trevor DeVageComment