The children of Israel had watched the plagues fall upon the Egyptians. They had witnessed the parting and closing of the Red Sea. They had seen the fire of the presence of God descend upon the holy mountain, eaten of the manna and drank water from the rock in the desert. Following the guidance of God they sent a band of spies into Canaan in preparation for its conquest, but here they met a giant they were unable to conquer. The spies came back saying, "There we saw the giants . . . and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." True there were giants in the Land of Canaan, but the true giant they were unable to conquer was fear.
Forty years later when they finally entered the land of Canaan the giant of fear no longer overwhelmed them but they still had to conquer the physical giants. They took the giants on, the way we must always fight giants, one at a time. David's encounter with Goliath illustrates both the simplicity and faith that is required for battling giants:
Then he took his staff in his hand,
and chose five smooth stones from the brook,
and put them in his shepherd's bag or wallet;
his sling was in his hand,
and he drew near to the Philistine. - 1 Sam.17:40
It took only one stone to fell the giant. The negative power of giants is in part an illusion fed by fear. Tackling giants one at a time, by faith, stone by stone, is all that God requires of us. If the task of building a congregation seems like fighting an army of giants just follow the example of David. Don't take on the whole burden by yourself. Share the task with others. Pick up five smooth stones, fit one in your sling, say a prayer, and fire it! Renewing a church is accomplished by each person taking one stone, or at most five smooth stones, and marching out with faith to risk what we can. In that mood most of the churches in the land have been build by people of faith, one stone at a time.