Monday, January 20, 2014
Everywhere I go these days people are asking me. "How do we get the kind of church growth that you people are having? Where do the converts come from? How do you get them to stay? Teach us about outreach"….etc, etc. Then when we try to share with them the truths from the Bible about what we are supposed to believe and how we are supposed to feel about things and people and what we are supposed to do about it...I always get the same response. "Oh, yeah, we know that. Oh, yes, that's what we believe too. Of course. Yep." I struggled with this for quite some time. If they believe what we believe, then why are they not getting the same response? Of course there is a very big difference between believing it and applying it…..but then it hit me. I went back and I re-studied all of the struggling churches that say they believe everything the way that we do. Then I went back and re-looked at the churches that we helped build up and the ones that we modeled our different ministries after. Sure enough! There it was right in front of my eyes. Are you ready for it??? The churches that are struggling are "having church", the churches that are growing are "living church".
Let me explain. Most modern day church goers take ownership of "their" church by building a lifestyle of a good marriage, a good family, a decent home, a nice vehicle, a job, career or business, good basic relationships, some entertainment, recreation and life benefits, (health choices, good habits, etc), THEN they feel that they are doing a great service and sacrifice to the church, the community and God by devoting as much of their time that is left to the local church of their choice.
The idea that the church must revolve around "normal life" instead of life must revolve around service to God, is not the only difference I see in general. But it is definitely the largest most defining difference that I see consistently between churches that believe basically right and some grow and some stay stagnant. Two things will kill church growth faster than anything else. The enforcement of man made doctrines and political principles that are enforced above or at least in equal standing with scripture AND forcing church to submit to life instead of the other way around.
I know many ministers, saints and their families that can't get certain jobs because it would interfere with their ability to help in the ministry, can't go out to eat on certain nights with friends or family, EVER, because it would keep them from being in church. When people are taught by example from their leaders to check on the converts and talk to the sinners and witness during the day and take a plate of food to the shut ins, pick up this brother on your way to that place, pray before you start and help work on the church project in the evening, etc. It creates the right climate and right culture for continual growth. Even the false doctrines that are growing rapidly have this one ingredient right. Life is about our religion not vice versa.
If you read this and it is offensive to you, you begin to puff up within yourself and think of challenges to this way of thinking, then I only have one thing to say to you and I say if from the bottom of my heart with all respect and love. YOU ARE WHY YOUR CHURCH ISN'T GROWING.
I am not trying to convince everyone to do it this way. Especially not the ones that don't want New Testament Biblical outreach style church growth. But I will say this. If you have been to our conferences and seminars and read our materials and heard me preach several times and your response is always about the same. "Yeah, I believe pretty much everything they are saying. They are just having special luck going into certain areas and having growth spurts. We tried all that stuff in the past and it didn't work here." And so on……TRY THIS! Intentionally keep track for six to 12 months and see if there are things that you know to do, or know would work, or know that we are doing but you can't or won't do them because they get in the way of life. If so…….there is the problem. Or better yet, pick the fastest growing church in your area and go down there one day and talk to someone and see what is going on down there. They will no doubt tell you about, bus ministry, new convert classes, teen groups, coffee time, mid week service, mid week prayer, mid week ministers meeting, mid week cookie bake for the board meeting, saturday afternoon flyers in the park and on and on. Now they might not be doing everything right and you may not want to do everything that they are doing but it will be very obvious that they are growing because of all of their effort. Now are you not growing because God just won't move or it's just too late in time or people just don't want Holiness or is it because it just takes more effort these days than you are willing to put forth? God bless each and every one.