God’s Story, Not Ours
Short of being a passenger on a rocket ship to Mars, I was about as far away from my North Texas home as a man could be. I had just finished speaking at a pastor’s conference in Australia when a young minister from New Zealand
approached me with a question. It was a familiar one: “What’s the key?” He didn’t have to elaborate. I was pretty sure I knew what he meant. But I encouraged him anyway.
“The key to what?” I responded.
“Gateway’s growth. I mean…what in heaven’s name is going on up there? What are you guys doing?”
He was referring to Gateway Church, the fellowship that it’s my privilege to pastor. The “what’s going on” at the heart of his question has been an ongoing story of astonishing growth and rising influence.
How astonishing? Well, Gateway began with a handful of friends and me in a living room Bible study back in 2000. As I write today, the church sees more than twenty thousand people participate in live worship and teaching each weekend. The growth has been steady, dramatic, and shows no sign of slowing down. On the pages that follow, I hope to reveal why I think we’ve experienced the blessings we have.
Nevertheless, I confess that I’ve had to work through some feelings of reluctance and awkwardness about writing this book.
That’s because the last thing we—myself or any of our team—would ever want to do is appear to be bragging or patting ourselves on the back. The very thought of anyone saying “Who does that guy think he is?” makes me want to shrink back and count my blessings in grateful silence. But the Lord won’t allow it.
The fact is, I don’t think I’m anything special. And of all God’s people, I’m the most aware that what we have experienced over the last twelve years has absolutely nothing to do with any smarts, special talents, or abilities I might possess.
On the contrary, I might be the most unlikely candidate you’ll ever meet. But that’s God’s MO, isn’t it? He chooses the rustic, barely educated fisherman Peter to carry the gospel to the cream of Jewish society. And He sends Paul, with
his elite education and sterling religious pedigree, to pagan Gentiles who couldn’t care less about his Jewish credentials.
Thus, I’m not a walking advertisement for the church-growing power of natural talent, clever strategy, and brilliant marketing. I’m a living, breathing testament to the power of God’s unfathomable grace.
Nevertheless, it’s impossible to deny that God has done something remarkable at Gateway Church. Wherever we go, I and members of our team are asked about it. Those questions take a variety of forms:
• “What’s your secret?”
• “To what do you attribute your church’s amazing rate of growth?”
• “How did you become one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America in just a few short years?”
• “How have you been able to remain balanced, healthy, and focused while riding a virtual rocket sled of increase?”
• “How do you identify, develop, and/or attract leaders to your cause?”
It is to bring clear answers to these questions in a spirit of transparency, humility, and gratitude that I have finally undertaken this book. Frankly, God will not let me off the hook.
In the end, the Lord has made it clear that He wants the Gateway story told because it’s His story—not because we’ve done everything right, but rather because He has accomplished something special in spite of our weaknesses and
mistakes. He wants these principles shared because they’re His principles. And the church bodies scattered across planet Earth by the tens of thousands are His too. He wants to see them healthy, growing, influencing, and overcoming.
So on the pages that follow, I’ll share what we’ve learned and what I’ve seen in the Word. Not because I have all the answers, but because I have some answers. A few of them may surprise you. Thus, throughout this book you’ll find
little nuggets of truth and insight labeled “Keys to a Blessed Church.”
To begin, I will share a brief overview of how I came to found Gateway Church and the amazing journey of grace and favor we have been on over the last dozen years. I’ll follow that by sharing the spiritual principles, biblical precepts,
school-of-hard-knocks lessons, and surprising insights that have made that journey so extraordinary.
Excerpted from The Blessed Church by Robert Morris. Copyright © 2012 by Robert Morris. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.