Ministry in the Midst of Doubt

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Questions in the young woman's head

My wife, Jenn, and I had the privilege of leading worship for a conference recently in Florida. The speaker for the conference was our new friend Dr. Tom McCall from Trinity Evangelical Seminary. He preached a message on Matthew 28 that stirred my heart, and I felt led to reiterate it here – to our online worship leadership community.

We have all heard the great commission and many could recite the passage word-for-word, but there is one part of the passage that we rarely flag as significant. Starting in verse 16, Matthew says, “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!”

Our Doubts Revealed

Have you ever caught that last phrase before? “But some of them doubted!” The eleven disciples have just seen the risen Lord face-to-face, and they still doubted. By this point, the disciples have seen Jesus betrayed, crucified and buried, assuming all hope was lost. Then, when they actually see Jesus, and hope is restored, some of them still doubted.

What Jesus does next is remarkable. Instead of dismissing those with doubts (which he certainly could have done) he actually commissions them to go change the world! Verse 18 is key when Jesus says; “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go…” Jesus is communicating several significant insights in this dramatic scene.

  1. Our doubts don’t negate Jesus’ calling on our lives. You will never be the most talented worship musician or artist. Others will always be elevated above you in this world. But Jesus still calls you, and he desires to use you in your brokenness and imperfection to be agents of renewal in the world.
  2. Jesus is the source of all authority, not you. I get this one turned around daily in my life. I have a tendency to behave as if I am the one with the authority, which, if I’m honest, leads to even further doubt in my life. But when I can rightfully see Jesus as the one with all authority, I can be completely dependent on him for the outcomes of my life and ministry.
  3. Jesus is calling everyone to go. While Jesus is commissioning the disciples in this passage, the call is for everyone to make disciples. We all have this same mandate to make disciples in the entire world. We are called to grow people, not things, and your life and ministry are significant no matter who you are, the size of your context, or the level of your education. God has led you to this moment in your life, and you can trust him completely.

From Dallas to NYC

Seven months ago our family relocated to New York City to plant a Wesleyan church in center-city Manhattan. God’s call on our lives one year ago was clear and big, and we accepted the offer of a lifetime to pioneer a church in an influential secular, post-Christian city. The first time I broke down and cried because of doubt was about day 3 after moving to NYC in August 2015. I knew that I knew that I knew that God had called us, but my own self-talk regularly told me why we weren’t the right ones for this. Here is a partial list:

  • We’ve never planted a church.
  • We’ve never been the lead pastors of a church.
  • We’ve never lived in an urban center-city context.
  • Our background is in worship ministry, yet we are being called to preach to a secular, expert culture.
  • We’ve never raised this much money before.
  • Why didn’t God call us 10 years earlier? Did we waste those years?
  • We don’t have the “proper” education for this.
  • How could we do this to our family?

The list goes on, but God has reminded us time and time again that he called us and we are starting this church under his authority, not ours. The fear has driven to our knees on a daily basis. Our daily morning prayer time together goes like this, “God help us to depend completely on you today.”

I’ve seen Jesus. His grace has saved me, and I will never be the same. Yet, I doubt. Sometimes the doubt is almost debilitating. I thank God that he still desires to use me and he allows me to play a part in his mission to the world.

How about you? What is God’s calling on your life? Where do you doubt? How have you seen God faithfully meet you and reinforce your calling in the midst of your doubt?

Image attribution: chargerv8 / Thinkstock

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Branden is a worship leader, pastor, teacher, and aspiring jazz musician living in New York City. Branden and Jenn are planting a church in Manhattan. Prior to living in NYC, Branden served at Sent Church in Dallas, TX, as its Executive Pastor for 4 years and Worship Pastor for 13 years. Branden is an accomplished music producer, musician, and teacher. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He holds a Bachelor of Music from The University of Northern Iowa, an MBA from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and a Master Certificate in Music Production from Berklee College of Music.

1 COMMENT

  1. God bless you Branden. I am so struggling in my pursuing my calling and purpose; financial needs causes much doubt. Pray for me.

    Godspeed,

    Steve

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