I never want to let fear of the unexpected cause me to institutionalize lukewarmness.
After I had been pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle for about a year, the church had grown to fifty people, but we were facing problems: little money, few people coming to faith in Christ. One Tuesday afternoon I sat in my cubbyhole office on Atlantic Avenue, depressed. I knew that later that day, fifteen people, at most, would come to church to pray. How could God call me and my wife to this city not to make a difference? I wondered.
I walked into our empty little sanctuary and recited to God a list of my problems: "Look at this building, this neighborhood.… Our offerings are laughable.… I can't trust So-and-so.… There's so little to work with."
Then the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, "I will show you the biggest problem in the church. It's you."
In that moment I saw with excruciating clarity that I didn't really love the people as God wanted me to. I prepared sermons just to get through another ...1