When I first moved back to northwest Arkansas to plant a church, not everyone understood. Even quite a few church leaders wondered why the neighborhood needed another church. But Nate Sweeney embraced us and has encouraged us all along the way. I so appreciate his ministry in northwest Arkansas, and I’m excited about the release of his first book, The Abiding Church.
Nate Sweeney has walked through a plethora of leadership issues in his young life, transitioning a church from its long-standing traditions into a church that communicates the gospel clearly to a new generation, with a new name, a new leadership structure, and a new style of ministry. Though he understands how to relate to the culture, Nate’s heart is really for the church to do what it was always intended to do – abide in Jesus.
In The Abiding Church, Nate offers encouragement, a challenge, and some practical wisdom for church leaders who need a fresh fire in their bones. He balances the idea of growth with the idea of intimacy with Jesus. Healthy churches grow, but healthy churches are more than just smarter or bigger – they’re more committed to the gospel and keep Christ at the center of their attention.
In Nate’s words to church leaders…
At the end of your life you will look back and realize you did a lot of things for God. You had good days and bad. You had victories and failures. You obeyed His word and sinned against Him. All of this should be swallowed up in a loving relationship with Him. If you’re banking on anything else then you will be greatly disappointed. If you remained in Him then you will have produced fruit. You will have allowed Him to prune you so you could grow. You will have done something that mattered because it was centered on Christ. Anything you do outside of Him will not produce lasting fruit. He wants to change you into the image of God as He spends time with you. An abiding relationship with Christ encompasses everything you need to be planted, take root, grow, and produce fruit in God’s kingdom.
Nate oozes kingdom-mindedness and love for fellow leaders, and he’s instigating a movement that might just change the world starting in Arkansas. His words are well worth reading and heeding!