My church won’t follow…”, “My church won’t get on board with the vision.” “I feel like I’m the only one who cares…” “No one is trying.” These are very commonplace statements among pastors today. Before any readers get on your spiritual high-horse, pastors understand they serve God’s church. These statements are not about “me” and “my” church. They are simply referring to the people in the church where they serve.
Its true people can be apathetic to the cause and mission of the church in North America today. Also true is the fact that people lead busy lives. Yet, is what we are facing today something new? The New Testament church has existed for 2,000 years and faced many challenges – apathy, tyranny, false teachings, infidelity, the list goes on. And the bride of Christ (the church) lives on. Perhaps it is time to look at the way we lead the church.
Growing a church is not something you do. The growth of a church, like the growth of a young person, is a result or by-product of good healthy practices. Too often pastors attend conferences, read books, or listen to other pastors and attempt to change the practices of the people in their church based on what they’ve seen, read, or heard. In most cases the pastor is clinging to an idea instead of the biblical principles behind the idea. Rule of Success: Don’t copy models; capture principles.
In The Antioch Effect, Dr. Ken Hemphill states, “…any time we attempt to force growth methods (or change) upon people who are spiritually unprepared, the results will be chaotic carnality.”[i] (parenthetic emphasis mine) The health and thereby true growth of a church is a by-product of a super-natural empowering of God through the Holy Spirit.
As leaders in the church we must – well, lead our people into a proper relationship with Jesus Christ. Much of what we see paraded as “Christianity” in North America today is not the Christianity of the Bible. (That’s a post for another day) I have a family member that suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He cannot control the tremors in his hands. There is a disconnect between his head (brain) and his arms and hands.
It could be said that we in the North American church have a similar disconnect between the head (Christ) and the body (believers).
While I am grateful for The God of All creation using me, I realize God does not desire for me to be a “successful” church revitalizer. God’s desire is for me to love Him so much that He can use me to strengthen and build His churches. God’s desire for you is to be so deeply in love with Him that He can grow His church, His kingdom, through you. The #1 way to grow your church? Fall more deeply in Love with God!
What is the first step you can take today to fall more deeply in love with God so He can use you more effectively in your church setting?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.
[i] The Antioch Effect, B&H 1994, Ken Hemphill, page 18