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Written by Daron Brown
From his column Pressing On



“Pastor, it’s time to evacuate.”

The officers let us remain as long as possible. We spent Saturday, May 1, 2010, fighting a flood. Many in Middle Tennessee simply remember it as “The Great Flood,” which the Corps of Engineers later declared a “thousand-year event.” Because our church campus sits in a low-lying area encompassed by a creek, we experienced the immense impact of the waters. In addition to constant rain for hours on end, debris collected in a bend of the creek just past our property. Trees, furniture and other wreckage made a dam at the bend, rerouting the main flow of the creek onto our property, between our two buildings.

The first few folks showed up that morning with Shop-Vacs to suction water as it entered the buildings. Others boarded doorways and sandbagged entrances. The rest of us carried furniture and other items to higher ground. Then we stood helplessly and watched. By the time the officers asked us to evacuate, the water had risen four feet around our facilities.

Our church was not the hardest hit structure. Many throughout Middle Tennessee were affected in countless ways. Thankfully, our facilities were restored and upgraded in a matter of weeks, and our congregation pulled together in ways that otherwise might not have happened. We confidently and gladly held onto the words of the prophet: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Isa. 43:2).

Since that day, the waters have risen on occasion, but they have not touched brick. I credit this to the outstanding work of the city crew that regularly descends into the creek bed. They keep the creek clear, allowing the water to flow freely, safely within its banks.

I learned several lessons from that flood. One has to do with leadership in the church. When I equip leaders, I take a moment to retell the story of the great flood. Then I let them know they have a choice: they can either be part of the debris or a member of the crew when it comes to the vision and ministry of our local church.

Being debris means blocking the vision. When people refuse to invest and participate in the life of the church, they become debris. When people stand to the side with folded arms and sharp whispers, they become debris. When people assert their opinions and agendas against the vision, they become debris. When people criticize leadership and assault the vision, they become debris. When people choose to do nothing at all, they choose to become debris. Being debris is fairly easy. Little effort is required for one to simply be in the way.

Being a crewmember means rolling up sleeves and descending into the ditches. It means clearing the way for the vision to flow freely and flourish. Crewmembers locate obstructions and remove them. Crewmembers advocate for the vision. Crewmembers respond to church whispers and criticisms. Crewmembers are undaunted by barriers, whether they are financial, relational, structural, or otherwise. Crewmembers refuse to get in the way of the work of God in the local church. Being part of the crew isn’t easy. It’s costly, messy work.

Every person of every local church (including us pastors) has a choice—we can either be debris or a member of the crew. I regularly challenge our people to roll up their sleeves and descend with me into the ditches. When we do, the vision flows freely and the church flourishes for God’s glory.

Daron Brown lives and pastors in Waverly, Tennessee.


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