As we approach Spiritual Leadership Conference, I’ve asked a few of the conference speakers to participate in brief interviews regarding what is involved in launching out by faith. I believe you’ll find their perspectives both helpful and faith-building.
This final interview is with Pastor Mike Norris. Pastor Norris has served as the senior pastor of Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for fourteen years.
What is an area in the past five years in which you’ve launched out by faith, and how has God blessed?
Our ministry had grown to the point that we desperately needed more space. Our nurseries were too small and outdated, and our Sunday School was overcrowded. Our original building had virtually no lobby space for fellowship, and the building exterior, which was popular in the 70s, had become outdated.
Our church was debt free when we unanimously voted to borrow $3,000,000 to begin construction of a 26,000 square foot, two-story building which would address all of these issues. Included in this project was a total facelift of the present building’s exterior with a beautiful stone and brick update.
Although this project stretched our ministry financially, the real test came in the middle of the construction phase. City government requested that we purchase more property to accommodate the extra parking and required us to pay for the construction of a city sewer extension to our property.
I remember the day when we had to call a special business meeting to increase our loan an additional $1,000,000! This was a total unexpected test of our faith. That night our church “launched out” and unanimously voted to borrow this additional money.
The Lord blessed mightily, and we now occupy a beautiful ministry facility that has given us room to grow. We are presently praying and waiting on the Lord to give us the “green light” to begin Phase III—a new Worship Center.
How have you seen Satan target leaders who launch out? What is your counsel to others to overcome those challenges?
It has been my experience that each time I publicly commit to by faith take my ministry to the next level, Satan attacks—especially during building programs! I regularly speak with men of God who experience Satan’s attack on their ministries each time they seek to break away from the status quo.
My advice to leaders who choose to launch out would be to make sure they have the basics of the ministry under control:
- The personal life of the leader should be solid—his devotional time in the Word and prayer, his time witnessing to others, his marriage, his relationship with his children, etc. If any of these areas are shaky, the devil will attack here.
- The professional life of the leader should be in order—his staff, his schedule, his dedication to the ministry where he serves. If you as leader are not content in the ministry and are considering a move, you can be sure the devil will tempt you here.
- The planning of the project should be God-led. Be very sure that your act of faith is from the Lord. A time of prayer and fasting can bring you to a place of confidence that you are indeed being led by the Holy Spirit. You can be sure that Satan will attack you with periods of doubt. Have Scripture burned in your soul to which you can relate to when these doubt come.
What reoccurring obstacles do you face when you sense God calling you to launch out, and how do you overcome them?
The first obstacle is convincing myself that it is actually the Lord who is moving me to launch out. Sometimes men will do things that other men are encouraging them to do. Sometimes leaders desire things in a selfish manner. Personal time in fervent prayer, searching the Scriptures, and the counsel of others can quickly overcome this obstacle.
A huge obstacle for any leader is the concern that the people will not support you in your faith venture, causing you to fail in the ministry. This can be resolved through patient leadership, tenderly guiding the people in your pulpit ministry, and effectively exposing the need. If the Lord is in the effort, He will guide the people with the same Spirit with which He guided the leader.
You have a session at the conference titled “Developing People of Great Faith.” Would you provide a brief overview of this session and how it will help and challenge pastors and missionaries as they challenge others to launch out in faith?
The people’s faith will rarely surpass the faith of their leader. This session will provide leaders with specific ways to effectively exemplify faith. It will also suggest examples of how to give your people opportunities to stretch their faith and lead them to make an impact on their community and the world.
See earlier posts in this series:
- Launch Out: an Interview with Kevin Folger
- Launch Out: an Interview with Tom Farrell
- Launch Out: an Interview with Andrew Reed
- Launch Out: an Interview with Wayne Van Gelderen
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