Church Leader Voices highlights the work of church leaders in a variety of ministry settings from around the world.
I grew up in a culturally Christian home. We were the kind who said a blessing at meals but never talked about God at home. My mother went to church most Sundays and I usually went with her, but other than those hours in a church building, God had little power in my life.
At the age of twelve, I had a personal encounter and gave my life to Jesus. At thirteen, I heard his call into ministry, and knew it was a very specific call to preach. That was not a normal thing for a girl living in the South in 1975, so it took years for me to turn that call into reality.
It wasn’t until I was thirty (a wife and mother) that I was willing to completely surrender my life and will to God. That’s when God asked me to “wake the people sitting in the pews.” To live out that call, God has given me opportunities to form new expressions of “church.” I started and led a new worship service in downtown Athens, Georgia, where I learned (mostly through my own mistakes!) how to build a sustainable community of faith. It was there that I discovered my gift for speaking especially to those in the margins, who may have been raised in families much like mine, and who have never had the chance to become alive to Christ.
After five years of serving in Athens, I was appointed to Evans, Georgia, to begin a new congregation. Our vision at Mosaic is to make room for those in the margins as we serve together in mission. We have baptized nearly two hundred adults since the inception of our church and have seen hundreds come to faith in Christ. We have a strong commitment to healing and discipleship and are raising up new leaders for the Body of Christ. Having experienced the challenges of entrepreneurial ministry, I learned early on that my calling and authority must be rooted in an on-going personal encounter with Christ. That pursuit of personal holiness is central to our life and ministry together. As we say often in our church, if Jesus isn’t in it we’re not interested.
Now that I have had the remarkably rewarding experience of seeing a church grow from three souls (the sum of my immediate family members) to a place of health and vitality, I have a great desire to see other women enter the journey of church planting with better mentors, training, resources and support. I want the voices they hear to be voices of encouragement and confidence so the Kingdom can come to earth as it is in heaven.
To those beginning in ministry, I advise you to:
- Learn everything you can about teams and systems. That is knowledge you will use every day in ministry.
- Invest in learning to hear the voice of God.
- Laugh with people a lot, and every once in a while it is okay to laugh at them. Because sometimes people need to lighten up.
- Every single morning, pray for more faith and less fear.
- Take a Sabbath. Every week. Whether you want to or not. It is the most powerful act of trust in God’s provision you can display before your people.
For more information about Carolyn or to read other voices, click this link.