Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
— Psalm 127:1
When we first began Community Life Church 10 years ago, we sat in a living room with a small group of leaders and began to discuss our hopes and dreams for this new “work.” I am not sure who said it (I think it was Paul McDill, but I hate to give him the credit), but it was stated, “We don’t want to build the best church that man can build.”
The more I thought about that statement, the more I appreciated it. You see, this was not an excuse to avoid the hard work that would inevitably follow, but rather an acknowledgement that we could use our abilities and build a great organization without it being a spiritually successful endeavor. The more talented and skilled the “laborers” are, the greater the danger of earthly success. What a tragedy it would be if we were to look back and recognize that our efforts don’t really represent God’s divine work.
This is why prayer has always been the secret sauce of our success. We knew that things would not go exactly like we imagined, or even desired, but the biggest value would be found in the process. If the process is guided by and saturated in prayer, then in the process we experience the reward of relationship with God.
Twelve years later, I echo that original sentiment. My favorite parts of c|Life’s history have not been the things that we have accomplished, but rather looking at the times when God intervened into what appeared to be a desperate situation. Places where only he had the tools and resources to equip and direct us. Places where he was the clear builder. Places where prayer worked in the struggle, and more importantly, in us.
So it hasn’t ever been about a particular speaker, nor any super-talented singer. It has never been about the amenities, programs, or the buildings. It’s always been about the builder. So the prayer is simple: ”God remind us that you are the one who is worthy to build the house, and may the past remind us of our future — the building has already begun.”