Now I will move to 2006 and look back over our ministry, in a series of post about how one grows by learning. This is the first of a series that will give a little insight into ministry. My son Chad said I needed to develop my first post. So here is the first: Later I will start at the beginning on this journey in 1947.
How having arrived at FBC on Main Street..... my secret dream of one day pastoring a large church of at minimal a 1000 people, which would be located on Main Street USA. Only this time FBC was located on Main Street in Altoona, Kansas with a population of 500. "Okay God, have I missed my call to preach and to pastor?" On that Sunday Morning in March 1980, FBC on Main Street had 35 people. "Okay Lord, we have a way to go to have a 1000 in Sunday School."
"How To Get A Crowd on Sunday Morning." Now let’s see what the Jack Hyles’s manual has to say about this dilemma. Maybe I should look into the Super Conference’s Notes from Jerry Fallwall! After all I had just taken a Pastor’s Refresher Course from Hyles Anderson College! I should know how to comprehend the task before me. And FBC in Hammond had over 20,000 in Sunday School.
First, preach like Jack Hyles, and secondly go soul winning! "Read the book, Charles." Thirdly, get the members on board, and in line with your program. Sounds good, Charles. Let’s try it.
Yep! (Charity says, "Charles, you are having fun with this post, aren’t you?")
Let’s see, the Sunday School teacher was a Holiness and a member of another church. The choir director was having Mormons teaching a class in his home. And the women were running the church, because the men were having a little trouble with leadership. Among other things, I had a duty to get these people disciplined with the program.
And the attendance was averaging seventeen per Sunday for years. Lets’s see... 983 people to go to reach 1000. But wait, in that first month, some twenty people left. Oh no! "Lord, have you really called me to pastor this church on Main Street? Maybe I am in the wrong city. "
After a month, I called for a vote to see if the church folks really wanted us to stay as pastor. Somehow the vote was taken, and I was asked to stay. And from that point on, I was glad that we stayed in Altoona. We never accomplished a 1000 of course, never got a big congregation of people to come each Sunday. But we loved our 16 years as Pastor/Teacher.
While nearly every missionary and friend and pastor would tell us when they came to FBC, "Charles, when are you going to go somewhere and have a church of 1000?" For two years we were determined on bringing people into the church. We did have a lot of visitors coming and some people were getting saved.
But in the winter of 1982 I attended the Pastors’s Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church. A new light was turned on about doing ministry. IT’S NOT ABOUT GETTING A CROWD. What!?
I learned that you can get people to come to church (maybe not all at the same time). And I have always enjoyed having people come to church. Having four people come on Wednesday night was really no fun. So having a group of people come to Sunday School or Church is really not a bad thought. But that is not the main objective of church ministry.
I endured to get an envisioning of the idea "GOD BUILDS HIS CHURCH." First, God’s Church is made up of believers, whom He is bringing into His Kingdom. The Lord wants believers to come to His church to worship Him. The purpose of the church is to worship the Lord on Sunday Morning. Thus getting just a crowd to come is not the purpose.
Secondly, the Believers are to be taught the "whole counsel of God." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be taught. Thus the pastor/teacher is to teach the believers the doctrines of the Scripture.
Thus I began to preach from the book of Matthew, chapter by chapter, and nearly seven years I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.
John MacArthur’s philosophy of ministry is "Doing God’s Work in God’s Way." He says, it’s not about numbers, it’s about preaching the Word of God. MacArthur said, the attendance at Grace Community Church grew as a result of people wanting to hear the preaching of the Scripture. He said that in the providence of God, the church grew.
So it’s not about getting a crowd, it’s about how you get a crowd. If you do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way, and in the providence of God, you will have the people whom the Lord brings unto Himself.
I don’t believe there is any merit of not having people hear the preaching of the Word. . I don’t believe there is any significance in saying you don’t care about how many you have on Sunday morning. The local church is a place where believers are built up into the image of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4 tells us the purpose of having a pastor and the desired result of each believer.
So the success of the ministry is not in numbers attending, but in the numbers of believers who are doing the work of ministry and have a knowledge of Christ and are full-grow in the fullness of Christ and know and live doctrine. This is called "shepherding the flock." Acts 20:28.
The question at issue here is: "Are Numbers an Important part of the Building of the Church?"
Do I believe we should desire to see people come to hear us preach? Yes. Do I believe we should play down our desire to get people to come to church? No. Then what is the proper balance here. Our focus should be on the preaching of the Word, and focus on shepherding the flock. I do believe as a result of proper philosophy of ministry there will be growth.
Post by Charles E. Whisnant at 10:03 p.m. May 19, 2006 Originally