Although it was his hometown, Clovis, N.M., was the last place on earth David Swann wanted to serve as a pastor. But that’s where God sent him and his wife, Roxanne, to start a new church, Faith Family Christian. “We started with about 40 to 50 people,” he recalls, “and I figured within two years we would have a thousand.”
Instead, the Swanns entered a 10-year period during which, at times, it seemed nothing was happening. On the church’s 10th anniversary, attendance was at the 150 mark. “Things don’t always go the way you think they will,” David said.
Ten years is a long time to remain faithful and excited about your ministry when it seems God isn’t doing much. Yet David and Roxanne Swann are an example of what God can do when we persevere. During that time, He used David to lead his brother and two of his old high school buddies to Christ. The Lord then called all three of those men into full-time ministry, and today they are pastors of churches in Albuquerque, N.M., Roswell, N.M., and Lubbock, Texas. In fact, the churches in New Mexico have become two of the largest in the state.
What kept David and Roxanne going wasn’t necessarily the hope for a 1,000-member church or a bigger facility. Instead, it was knowing that what they were doing mattered—that they were making a difference in people’s lives. Were they not convinced of this, it’s likely they would have headed elsewhere.
In the same way, a church becomes effective and experiences significance when it is convinced it has a message others need. We can’t expect the world to be excited about our message if we’re not excited about it and convinced it can change lives.
What would a congregation full of sold-out believers look like? Here are four key characteristics:
Frank Viola’s last book, Pagan Christianity, challenged the way we “do” church today. Reimagining Church follows up by discussing Christ’s original intent for His body and offering constructive ways to become a living, breathing organism.