I was reading through Acts 16 the other day when I was reminded about the importance of dreaming forward. Paul desired to start churches in Asia, but was prevented from doing so by the Holy Spirit. He then attempted to enter Bithynia, but was denied access by the Spirit. I’m sure that Paul was a little disappointed by these circumstances. He had the right goal in mind (planting churches that would reach people for Jesus), but was stopped short of the goal twice. Looking at this story, I see that Paul was a man who dreamed forward. He was always looking for the next place to start a church. In his dreams, he was always responsive to God’s direction.
Several encounters last week that caused me to dream forward. My first encounter was with a young man who is preparing to start a new church in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. We ate lunch together and then walked the neighborhood, even stopping to pray at a school that could serve as a potential meeting place for the church. It was good to dream together. The second encounter was with a missionary who has returned to America from serving in Africa. He feels called to reach the people who have migrated to Chicagoland from that region of Africa. We spent time talking about church planting and how a church might be started to reach a different people group. I enjoyed dreaming with him.
Many times, new churches start as a dream in someone’s mind. I want to be a person who dreams forward!! Ignite will remain responsive to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, but we want to be a church planting team committed to dreaming big, bold dreams. I think that when dreams are dreamed, opportunities begin to open up.
There’s a little verse a couple of chapters later in Acts that caught my attention. In Acts 19, Paul took a group of disciples with him for daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus and this is what happened: “This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” God may have said “no” to Paul in Acts 16, but a few chapters later, Paul’s original dream came true as all of Asia heard about Jesus. Dreaming forward, this passage gives me another reason to keep dreaming big!