I had a dream after visiting St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi in October 2005. In my dream a young church planter (apostle) approached me and asked me to train him. For some reason I knew that this was the second time that the young apostle had approached me (I did not recognize him–so I took it as a general application after I woke up.). He pressed me to coach him about how to plant churches. It occurred to me that he was only interested in the outcome of the training itself–planting churches.
I said to him: “I don’t think you understand the nature of church planting. You are looking at church planting as a task to do. Your heavenly Father is looking at it as a journey of getting to know Him. God really does not need us as much as we think He does. But he gives us tasks to do that are the avenues and vehicles for getting to know Him. For those of us who are church planters, the avenue to getting to know Him is planting churches. So we should view our task as the path to getting to know Him.
“Now here is the key–we never get to know Him through success. We get to know Him through humility–not success. I have had a lot of success in church planting, but no success has led to me getting to know Him better. The way to know God is through failure. I have rejoiced in my successes, but I have not been led to a deeper walk with Him or greater reliance on Him through success. But in failure I have agonized over my own contribution to the failure and been led to deeper repentance and faith. I have been led deeper into dependence in relationship with Him whereby I grasp new aspects to His glory as I have been driven to His throne through failure. It is in failure that we come to know more deeply our Heavenly Dad.
“I perceive that when you are approaching me to train you, you are doing so because you desire to be successful, not because you want to get to know your Father more deeply. If you want me to train you to get to know the Father I would be happy to—and if the journey through which He has called you is one of an apostle, I think I can be of some service. But realize that it would not be to avoid failure. Indeed my training may lead you into greater failure than you think. But it would also lead you into a deeper relationship with your Father and His son, Jesus. So if you desire for me to train you into a deeper relationship with the Lord (though the vehicle of church planting), I would be glad to. But if you only desire to be trained in church planting in order to be successful, then I will not do this.”
My dream ended with him walking away. I woke up with a profound sadness over him. I felt like Jesus must have when the rich, young ruler turned away. But I woke up feeling like the dream was spot on and that this was indeed what the Lord was calling me to—to train a new generation of apostles in getting to know Him.
(From Building Effective Apostolic Communities, by Dick Scoggins.)