Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
When I was telling a member of the HGC team about my recent trip to Hungary, this verse came to mind. I am so honored to represent HGC in Budapest and work with some great Christians in this beautiful city. I am humbled to be a part of God’s purpose in this part of the world. But this journey hasn’t been according to my plans and it hasn’t followed the plans in our covenant.
Three years ago, HGC, with 3-Worlds and a number of sponsoring congregations from the United States, were invited to Hungary to work with two pastors of churches that wanted to plant a church in downtown Budapest. Essentially, they wanted to start a church in a bar and minister to the 20-somethings who live and work in that part of the city. These pastors saw the need to reach these young people but knew that they would never be able to accomplish this alone or from their current locations in the suburbs. They asked HGC to come and help them come together to make a plan to reach the lost people in the downtown area.
HGC did a consultation with the leadership and churches and it quickly became apparent that to plant a healthy work, the existing congregations needed to be healthier. We entered into a covenant with the congregations that created a plan to help them toward the multiplication goal.
The three congregations became one church: one small (5+ people) congregation merged with the other two existing congregations. The two remaining congregations became two campuses of one church. The campuses each kept their pastor, but they combined the boards and staff to reduce costs and increase alignment.
This was the first step in the journey toward the downtown church plant. We were on our way. The plan was for each congregation to grow to 100+ before we focused on the new location.
However, as almost always happens when we get serious about reaching lost people, the enemy attacked, using the footholds that he had probably established long ago. Just as the congregations were experiencing the fruit of the united board, staff and common mission, just as they were positioned for growth, several marriages within the congregations experienced crisis, including those among key leadership.
Issues like a marriage in crisis can be difficult for any church; for several marriages to be in crisis at once in a small congregation can be devastating. HGC worked with the new board in support, advice and guidance.
Here’s the cool part, God knew what was going to happen before we did. We thought we were in a partnership to plant a new church but the work we had done during the consultation gave them someone to reach out to when they needed support. Even more, as the administrative pastor expressed to me, without the work that we had done to combine the churches, we would have probably lost one of the campuses. Having a second campus and combined leadership will give the campus in crisis the ability to weather the storm and continue.
I thought God called us over there to plant a church and we will get there. But first, we are working on achieving healthiness in these leaders, people and congregations. And I can only say, “Lord, may your purpose prevail.” He obviously works in ways that are not our ways!
If you would love to invest in these churches in Hungary, please let us know. God is doing some really cool stuff through some great young (and old) leaders there.