Warning: this post is a tad hyper. Please bear with me. I do this from time to time. ;-)
Most of you know that I was a Pastor for almost 7 years before moving to Africa where we now serve. What you may not know is that my sense of value, worth and ability as a Pastor rested mainly on how many total human bodies decided to get up and come to our "church building" on Sunday morning between 10:30am and Noon. In addition to the number of heads, my week would feel high or low based on whether there was more or less than $8,000 in the offering that Sunday. Our planning sprouted from these two numbers. Our board focussed on these two numbers. My eyes and heart lived for these two numbers. My emotions were linked to these two numbers.
Conference after conference, book after book focussed in one way or another on growing your church...because growth=health and bigger=better. (God help us and forgive us, please.) And I am NOT saying that small is good and big is bad. I AM saying that size is not to be our focus.
In the last year I have been on a journey of redefining what church really is anyway, and the reality I just expalined to you above has become totally embarassing and completely hilarious, in retrospect.
Let me say something clearly and boldy that will not make me very popular (I have read many Pastors blogs and tweets about why they proudly count and love numbers because God loves numbers because he loves people and people are numbers....not convinced of pure motivation...sorry):
For goodness sake, enough about church growth already!! More people coming to your church building on a Sunday morning is a pathetic and small minded goal to live for. We can do better. We must do better. The Bible invites to a much larger dream!
The Bible does not ask you to grow a church! HE builds His church (Matt. 16:18), GOD brings the increase (I Cor. 3:6), the LORD added daily to their numbers those who were being saved (Acts 2:47), and Jesus say that "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me (John 12:32).
Besides, when we count it, we are all the more tempted to take the credit for it. Being faithful is our task. Not being big! Faithful obedience is up to us. Size is up to God.
I had this strong realization of the change in my own life about a month ago. I went into Masi to have church with a group that usually numbers about 10 in size. We were supposed to start at about 10:30am. By 11am, only 3 guys were present. So I thought (and said): "Hey, I kinda hope no one else comes this morning becuase this will be a sweet opportunity for us to go deep today into the scriptures and really work at personally applying them and holding each other acountable." Then I thought (but did not say): "Did you hear yourself just now? 2 years ago, if half of your 'church' did'nt show up, you would have been devestated. Now, you are rejoicing?!"
Look, I am not judging you. I am just telling you that God has judged me, convicted me and changed me...and I hope that I never again measure success in numbers. I long to be a part of sometihng...
- Too deep to count
- Too broad to count
- Too far to count
- Too big to count
- Too chaotic to count
- Too natural to count
- Too organic to count
- Too humble to count
- Too busy to count
- Giving too many people away to count!!
Do I want big? You better believe it! Jesus wants big. And I want He wants. The Father wants the Son to be worshipped by all the people of the earth...every nation...and for his glory to cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.
How about we leave this size thing up to God and start radically loving Jesus, purley loving others and sacrificailly loving the lost so we can see the Father's dreams come true on earth?
Just an idea.