You Can Build A Ship, But You Can’t Make The Wind Blow. Matt Chandler


My notes from a stand out talk from this year’s Exponential West 2016;

At conferences, you see the speakers up there, like they have something special going on, and then there’s’ little old me.’  Like they have these great big ocean liners and you’re in your little rowboat. But that’s not what matters.

We can all aim to implement great practices; we can try to build that a bigger, better ship.  But… we can’t make the wind blow.  We can gather, we can motivate, but we can’t transform.  We are so much in need of the Holy Spirit to blow that wind, in the hope that we move forward. We must not think though, that He isn’t a magical genie in a lamp that you simply rub and it will happen!

What we can do is look at the place where the wind blows. If we position ourselves where the wind has a tendency to blow, it will happen.

Amid the books, the conferences or podcasts we can all think ‘the Church needs Tim Keller, or someone…’ but he put Keller in Manhattan and you where you are, so he knows who He put where you are. Just be the best, most sanctified version of you. Get over yourself by embracing being you. You being you is God’s big plan for the city you are in.  He’s put you in a place that is perfectly pleasing to Him.

Acts 13:1- 3 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Notice; This was a church marked by:

  1. A serious pursuit of God.

They have this great, diverse, staff team – but what are they doing? Worshipping HIM! Fasting (which means saying ‘you are better than food. We want YOU! ‘ So even if we grow in all kinds of things, never grow out of a desperate pursuit of God. Knowing you need Him.

Exodus 33, look what Moses wanted – 12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

“I don’t want an angel! I want you!”  The goal is not for Moses to get the people and him into the promised land. He didn’t even get to cross that river. But he says ‘I want YOU Lord.’

How about David? He said, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

AND… remember his one thing:

 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

This translates as “I don’t need lots of multi sites, lots of people coming, lots of glory to me. I just need YOU, your presence and power, for your glory.

“Herein would I live; herein would I die; hereon would I dwell in my thoughts and affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, unto the crucifying all things here below, until they become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way meet for affectionate embraces. For these and the like reasons, I shall first inquire into our beholding of the glory of Christ in this world by faith . . .”

 — John Owen, The Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ (New York: Carter, 1839), pp. 381, 383.

2. A radical and generous obedience to the Holy Spirit.

– even when he told the church to give its best away!

Would you not want Paul to stay on staff? His hankies heal people! You don’t even need to do hospital visits! And how about Barnabas? The most cheerful staff member who encourages everyone? And Antioch is a very influential city the nations are coming to.

But why would you send the most gifted people on? Isn’t that going to slow our movement? Isn’t there some way we can keep them? Manipulate or bully them into staying?

The problem is, if you do that you are building your Kingdom not him.

The church at Antioch knew how to say gospel goodbyes well. The two most gifted, are anointed – to be sent out. And they didn’t have Skype! They really went when they went. Remember what Paul told the Ephesians? ‘I will never see you again.’

Be generous with people, with money, with everything.

Remember, we are here now – because they did this. Antioch was basecamp for Paul’s three missionary journeys. Because they knew, ‘There’s a bigger kingdom here than us.’ We are here because the people before us, long before us, didn’t hold on but let go. So now it’s our time.

And when a church is like this, the wind tends to blow.