The African impala was born to jump. God created it as one of the highest-leaping creatures in the animal kingdom. Yet captive impalas can be trained not to jump over a three-foot-tall fence. Their inability to see where they’ll land keeps them from making the easily achievable jump.
We were born to make faith jumps. To soar into a world of possibility, to advance God’s kingdom, to move higher in our relationship with Christ. Yet too often we find ourselves afraid and held captive by small barriers that appear larger than they really are.
Innovative leader and pastor Efrem Smith believes that jumping is the difference between a life of limitation and one of liberation. Join Efrem as he explores a world without walls, where we’re compelled by faith, moved by love, and driven by desire.
Excerpt taken from the Introduction of Jump: Into a Life of Further and Higher
©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Jump by Efrem Smith. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.
As I prepared to write a book on faith jumping, I never thought I would be making one of my own before the book was even released. After serving for seven and a half years as the senior pastor of the Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I was presented the opportunity to serve as the next superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. In this role I will oversee the churches and other ministry initiatives of the Evangelical Covenant Church in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. I’m so humbled and honored to have been elected to serve in this position. I will start, full steam ahead, at the same time that this book is released.
This was not an easy decision for me to make. I have enjoyed so much serving as the senior pastor of the Sanctuary Covenant Church. I’m also the founding pastor of this church, which was planted to be intentionally evangelical, multiethnic, and urban. Add to that, Minneapolis is also the place where I was born and raised. As I prayed about going through the process to be considered for the superintendent role, I thought about the opportunity to see on a broader scale the ministry fruit I have experienced at Sanctuary. I continue to have a passion to see the Kingdom of God advanced in an ever-increasing multiethnic and multicultural world. I also yearn to see a stronger connection between evangelism, discipleship, compassion, mercy, and justice. Making this connection is about embracing the whole mission of God. The region of the Evangelical Covenant Church presents the opportunity to see this connection thrive in mighty ways. The West Coast is a powerful expression of diversity and also a platform for further Kingdom advancement and transformation. My passion and this opportunity of servant leadership is what led me to the jump into a new calling and season of ministry.
Taking the jump into a new Kingdom opportunity is not always easy. I cannot even begin to express how tough it was to share the news of my departure to a congregation and community that I love so much. If a pastor can easily leave a church he has served, he has neither a love for the people nor a true understanding of what it means to be a pastor. It’s difficult making various jumps in life, even those that have been prayed through. Yet God is in the business at times of giving us the invitation to jump into opportunities that call for a trusting of Him in new ways. I’m excited, as well as nervous and overwhelmed, to take on this new role. These feelings are all good if they lead to trusting God in a deeper way. God doesn’t want us to just jump for jumping’s sake. We shouldn’t live a life that says, “Look at what a great and holy jumper I am!”
Our jumps should be based on God’s speaking to us; they should be jumps of obedience. Also these jumps ought to increase our dependence on and trust of God. All of this leads to the deepening of our intimacy with God, a clearer identity in Christ, and a stronger sense of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The big issue to embrace here is that we don’t jump alone. We jump with God and empowered by God. God is the “spring” in the jump, and God should also be in control of our landing. We can’t always clearly see the landing point, but God sees it all. There are parts of the landing out west that I can see. I experience times of excitement as I look in anticipation at these landing points. I see a gifted and diverse staff that I get to work with. I see a Hispanic theological school. I see a cool Kingdom initiative called Journey to Mosaic that equips people to become Kingdom laborers in an age of increasing diversity. I see camps and conference centers. I see eager church planters. Okay, let me just put it out there, I see ministry trips to Hawaii! But for a Minnesotan like me, Phoenix and San Diego are awesome trips.
There are also times when we will sense strongly that scary feeling of being still in the air. That’s how I’m feeling as I write this. I’m not yet in California, I haven’t yet bought a new home, and I don’t know where my daughters will be going to school. Neither I nor Sanctuary knows who the next senior pastor will be. All of this up-in-the-air time drives me to my loving Father. Jumping brings me closer to my Daddy in heaven. Oh, the scary joy of jumping!
Where is God calling you to take jumps of faith in your life? I hope this book ministers to you as you ponder the jumps God is calling you into. Maybe you find it hard to give yourself over to letting God get you off the ground. I can relate. As I thought about the jump to serve as a superintendent within a denomination, there were many things going through my head that could have kept me grounded. One, I was concerned about what the folks at Sanctuary would think of me. Would they be mad at me? Would people feel abandoned by me? I wondered what other pastors would think of me. Would they think I was crazy for taking this jump?
It’s important for us to remember that we have good company. What did people think of Peter when he took the jump to leave his business and follow Jesus? What did people think of Jeremiah when he took the jump to be God’s prophetic voice to a disobedient nation? What did people think of Esther when she decided not to be a passive queen simply serving the will of the king? Her jump saved the lives of an entire people. Our jumps may not turn out to be that big, but God is in all of them just the same.
I’m excited to serve the Evangelical Covenant Church this way. This denomination has taken a leap of its own in being willing to present a different picture of evangelicalism. It’s important to see a denomination that believes in the authority of Scripture, the necessity of new birth, and the importance of discipleship and that embraces the biblical mandate of justice. When I think of the opportunity to
serve those values, it’s hard to keep my feet on the ground! Yes, I’m jumping.…
Jump: Into a Life of Further and Higher by Efrem Smith
David C Cook/September 1, 2010/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6457-7/224 pages/trade paperback/$14.99
www.davidccook.com ~ www.efremsmith.com
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