In Zechariah 4, the angel of the Lord appears to the prophet and priest, Zechariah. The angel has a message for Zerubbabel, the weak governor of Judah. At this point in Israel’s history, she was not a nation but a province of Persia. Thus, Zerubbabel was a governor instead of a king.
The God-given task of Zerubbabel was clear: rebuild the house of God. After rebuilding the temple foundation for the first two years, construction came to a standstill for seventeen years. Yes, you read that right. Two years of building, then seventeen years of nothing.
Why did Zerubbabel stop? What led to his fear and/or apathy? For certain, there was opposition from outsiders who disrupted the building project (Ezra 4:4). But how did one opposing group have so much power? Why did the building of the house of God come to a standstill for almost two decades?
Why was there widespread fear? Was there pervasive discouragement? Was there a foreboding sense of apathy that was more dangerous than any opposing forces from the outside?
Can you imagine the conversations of those who passed the temple construction for seventeen years and saw nothing but a foundation? Did they murmur? Did they say, “That’s a shame”? Did they say, “Somebody should do something about it?”
Or more likely, did they become so accustomed to the unbuilt house of God that they stopped noticing it? They walked around the temple foundation as if it were nothing more than a large rock to be avoided.
Then God spoke.
He spoke to Zechariah the prophet and priest rather than speaking directly to Zerubbabel. Maybe that was the path of God’s protocol. Or maybe God just knew Zerubbabel did not have a listening ear, that his heart had grown cold with fear, doubts, and, then, apathy.
But God did speak. Read His words carefully In Zechariah 4:8–9: “Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you.’”
Did you get that?
Despite Zerubbabel’s fears, despite his doubts, despite his weaknesses, and despite his years of apathy, he will complete the building of the house of God. And after the house of God is built, the world will know that God sent him to build it, that God was in it all.
Scrappy church leaders know God is not done with them. Scrappy church leaders know that as long as they have a breath to breathe, God wants them to build His church.
They don’t have to be the largest church in town. They don’t have to have the coolest facilities. Different servants of the living God are given different talents. The only option we don’t have is to bury our talent, to do nothing with what God has given us.
You, church leader and church member, are on a mission field. That mission field is no less important than the distant mission fields. The mission field 9,000 miles away is no more or less important than the mission field nine blocks away.
Samaria and the end of the earth are important. And so is Jerusalem.
You have been called to your mission field for such a time as this. That field demands you use your talent. Use it. Invest it. Make a difference with it. But don’t bury it.
God has called you to build His house. He has promised His hands will complete it.
How many times have we heard these statements:
- “We can’t compete with the megachurch in our town!”
- “A new church was started two blocks from us. We’ve got plenty of churches without them!”
- “The church brought another one of their campuses near us. It’s totally unethical what they are doing.”
- “We can’t reach young families. They all go to the big church that has all the children’s and student stuff.”
- “We don’t have the money or the people the other churches have.”
Bestselling author Thom S. Rainer (I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church) has heard comments like these hundreds, if not thousands, of times. They are statements of hopelessness. They are statements of despair. They are statements of defeat.
In Scrappy Church, we find that there is hope. God’s hope. God’s possibilities. What does a scrappy church look like? Let’s take a look together.