What are the top 2 or 3 ways you hope that the church will grow while you are away on an 8 month leave?
First of all, I'm not thinking in terms of growth first. I'm thinking in terms of explosive experience of the fresh work of God. A revival isn't usually called growth. Growth is incremental, revival is sudden. My longing is that God would just show up in an unusual awakening of reviving power. I don't know what form it might take.
But I'm totally there with the question, because I believe in growth. I believe in the steady state work of the ministry.
I hope that everybody will be discerning whether John Piper has positioned himself in their heart as a faithful minister of the gospel to them or as an icon of whatever inappropriate kind. Let the church be cleansed and purified in my absence and say, "OK, it was nice to have John for these reasons, but God is God, and the Spirit is the Spirit, and the gospel is the gospel, and there are other people who can communicate those truths to us."
Just like I'm testing my heart to discern whether I'm addicted to or idolizing aspects of public life, I would like the church to grow in their mature freedom from an excessive dependence upon anything about me that's not gospel, that's not humble, that's not Godward. That's one thing.
Second, I hope they would grow in their confidence of the sovereign goodness of God. That they would grow in faith that God—Gideon-like—gets victories when it looks like we are in a time when, humanly speaking, we wouldn't. So faith is the issue there. More faith in God and less faith in John. More faith in God for doing all that needs to be done.
Third, I want the staff to feel a sense of confident, bold ownership of decisions that have to be made. Don't email me and don't call me up. If you need to hire a staff person, or if you need to make a decision about Sunday morning structure, or if you need to start a new service, just do what the collective wisdom of the elders says to do.
If you feel like my input is necessary, if you haven't got it after 30 years, then another email is not going to help (unless you are looking for some kind of control or constraint). I'm walking away from that kind of control. I don't want to exert immediate kinds of "No, don't do that." I've given 30 years of my life, this staff knows what I think, and they can finish my sentences. They can stir that into the mix and do what they want with it.