Reality - Only God can grow churches.
Without God, nothing grows. Without God, nothing happens.
Only God grows churches.
But then how come I stress out so much about church growth? How come pastors and leaders freak out about the lack of growth?
While it is absolutely truth that only God grows churches, it is also absolutely true that churches can do a lot to ensure that their particular church doesn't grow.
God designed the church so that when the church behaves and functions like a church, churches grow.
However, because churches are filled with people, churches are filled with personal agendas. Yes, that includes the pastors and leaders. So when churches get off target from why the church exists and starts playing the personal agenda game, bad stuff happens. And when bad stuff happens, growth...well...it ain't happening.
There are too many examples of how this plays out. I'm sure you can list your own. But here are some from you might have encountered.
- When a visitor who's been reluctant to try the church thing comes to the church for the first time in a long time is asked to move seats because they are sitting in someone's seat
- When a person is told that if they would just pray more then they wouldn't be dealing with so much guilt and shame
- When a person is told that perhaps it was their fault that their spouse beat them senselessly
- When a person is told that they don't belong because they are _______
The list literally can go on for quite a while.
That's the thing.
God designed the church to grow. God is the only one who can grow churches.
The church can sometimes be its biggest hurdle because the church keeps getting in the way of Jesus.
So what can we do to be better at being the church God wants us to be? I don't know all the answers, but I think these might be a good start.
- Treat all people with love, respect, and dignity.
- Being gracious, welcoming, hospitable trumps being right and getting my way. It's not that being right is not important. Being right absolutely matters. But caring must come first. We must earn the right to teach the right things.
- Don't just proclaim good news. Be good news in the community.
- Make difference.
- Make the world a better place because Jesus is Lord.
- Establish God's kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
No church is perfect.
But every church can improve.