By Matt Henslee
I was one of those pastors who had a “Vision 20/20” graphic ready for a big push into this year. Now I look back at that and chuckle because if my vision was anything, it was legally blind.
As the hits of 2020 kept coming, the vision seemed to become something like “Hang On.” We had a pandemic, the deaths of Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We experienced an impeachment, a stock market crash, West Coast wildfires, civil unrest, and perhaps the most tumultuous election in our lifetime. And let’s not forget the murder hornets.
All along the way, pastors had to navigate no-win situations where virtually every decision made, word said, or thought deliberated could cause turmoil. A text, or really just a phrase, that moved me forward this year was Genesis 18:14, “Is anything impossible for the Lord?”
God tells Sarah she’ll have a baby despite her age. Of course, “The Lord came to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised” (Genesis 21:1), and gave birth to a son.
“Is anything impossible for the Lord?”
In 20-plus years of ministry, I don’t think I’ve experienced a year (that felt like a decade) as hard as 2020. And I’m almost certain it’s the same for you. Some things seemed downright impossible, and truthfully, they were impossible––for me. But not for God.
After all, Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
At Mayhill Baptist—the church I shepherd, we went from a full sanctuary to a congregation of cars with a drive-in service, then to two services, and now back to one. Our attendance at times looked like an EKG line, but God did amazing things all along the way.
God saved 11 souls here (and a few more through our online sermons), added eight more to our church family, and we were able to give over $80,000 to meet needs in our community and advance the Kingdom. For a small rural mountain church, that was wholly impossible for man––but a walk in the park for God.
Another church, First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, recently had 19 unchurched visitors on one Sunday through personal invitations.
Their pastor, Coleman Philley, said, “Regardless of the COVID chaos, humanity truly is hungering for authentic biblical community more than ever.”
Lamar Baptist in Arlington, Texas had to, like a lot of us, pivot from a regularly-scheduled outreach activity. Instead of a Fall Festival, they held the “North Texas Candy Hunt.”
Their pastor, Ryan Gilbert, said they ended up with about 800 children and students from the community involved, and well over 100 first-time guests showed up the next morning for church.
What’s more, 45 of them chose to take Bibles with them, nine wanted to visit with a pastor, and including one trusted in Jesus.
“We’re still in awe of what God did,” Gilbert said. “This was all after being very disappointed we couldn’t do our regular Fall Festival.”
Another church pastored by a friend of mine gave 90 Thanksgiving boxes that could feed over 500 people. A church planting catalyst in New Mexico passed out 50 Christmas care packages to neighbors that contained some sweet treats and gospel messages.
I’ve read story after story like this throughout 2020. So many had a difficult, frustrating year full of loss. Yet, amid the challenges God moved in amazing ways in churches all over the country.
We moved forward this year–day by day, week by week, month by month, by God’s grace. As we near the finish line of 2020, what may seem too hard or impossible for you is a piece of cake for God.
As we race through the finish line of 2020 and into the unknown of 2021, trust God, follow Him, and seize the opportunities He gives you. Don’t waste a second––keep marching forward in faith, trusting Him to do great things because that’s what He’s going to do.
Look back on this year, think about what God did, and share it in the comment section below so we can celebrate with you. Gather with your church and share what God has done with one another.
MATT HENSLEE (@mhenslee) is the pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico, D.Min student of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and author of a few books, including Jonah Over Coffee.