Natalie is busy. Four children—one with special needs—keeps her occupied and happy. But beneath the smiles and laughter, I can see a tiredness that infects any mother of four. Somehow, in the midst of it all, she finds the energy to invest in her church. Worship team. Informal mentoring. Doing life together with a group of fellow believers. She loves God. She loves people. She is an answer to prayer.

Nicole is beyond busy. Five children (eight and under) and a full-time job as a NICU educator for a large hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, creates more than a little stress. Yet, in the midst of it all, she is completing her masters degree and is heavily engaged in the ministry of Lakewood Park Baptist Church. She is gifted. She is grateful. She is eager to serve others. She is another answer to prayer.

Erica takes a different approach. She invests most of her time in three little boys. She and her family are involved in their local church, but her primary passion is to raise her sons to become men of God. She loves every moment, and shares most of them on Facebook. One more prayer answered.

Deanna just graduated from Moody Bible College in Chicago. She serves as the client services director at a crisis pregnancy center in Greensboro, North Carolina. She helps women navigate significant life choices. She saves the lives of children every week. She is doing exactly what God designed her to do. God is good.

These are my four daughters. Each one chose a different path for the same reason: an intense commitment to the mission of God, and a passion for His glory.

As a dad, I stand in awe. God shaped their lives in spite of me, not because of me. In my own strength, I would have reproduced children with far greater flaws. My primary contribution was twofold: (1) I was good at confessing my failures. (2) I was single0minded. My only goal was to raise children who loved God.

I wish I had been as single-focused in raising a church. For over 20 years, God blessed us in many ways. People were saved. Many were baptized. Lives were changed. During most of that time, we were a growing church. We were a busy church. Lots of programs. Several people went to the mission field. Even more entered full-time ministry. Buildings were built. Budgets grew. There were many things to be excited about. But I’m not so sure we were focused in on the primary mission of God. In the midst of all the inward activity, we didn’t make much of a dent in the lostness of our town.

That’s my primary regret. If I had led with greater focus, if I had kept us centered on the core goal, we could have made a far greater contribution to the mission of God. God may be using that to drive me now. I pray, in some way, He will use it to drive you. Don’t settle for secondary victories. Don’t find your significance in well-attended activities. Keep your ministry centered on the primary mission of God—reproducing disciples, leaders, and churches for His glory. We’re here to help. Contact us at cjewell [at] garbc [dot] org.

Clare Jewell
National Church Planting Coordinator
for Regular Baptist Ministries