FACTORS TO FACTS IN THE GROWING OF A LOCAL CHURCH
As the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist church the last two years, one might say, "What is wrong with our church that we are not growing?" And I came across the website that gave me some ideas why that is? I have used the points and added my own personal touch, with outlines and photo and clip art.
The comment that person made to you, that your former church's problem was the lack of a "dynamic pastor" seems too simple to me. The comment assumes that lost people just love to hear God's Word, so the only problem must be a bad preacher. The most dynamic Preacher in history got crucified by His audience.
I know there are poor preachers, but the normal preacher doesn't need to be fabulous to be used of the Lord. As you more or less said, God hasn't ordained that we all be Billy Grahams or Bill Hybels or Charles Spurgeons, John MacArthur, Jr, or whoever your favorite is. I believe it says in the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 12 that there any many ministries and diversities of gifts. (And not everyone who is praised deserves the praise, when you examine their messages carefully. There have been many preachers with large congregations whose preaching is significantly flawed.) At the same time there are many who should be noticed for their preaching and teaching of God's word.
Church growth has several moving parts, and not all of them are under our control.
- For example: A man's preaching could be really good, but the congregation is internally dysfunctional.
- Factions abound, and visitors are shown only a false friendliness that evaporates quickly. So you get visitors, but they don't stick, and eventually the congregation's poor reputation bleeds out into the community.
- Or the congregation could be pretty healthy, but the pastor is not good.
- Pastors feel sensitive about everything being blamed on pastors, because that happens too often.
- But we also know of cases where the poor brother just can't preach, or has emotional problems, or his wife was obnoxious, or he was lazy, or who knows what else.
- Or everybody together could be spiritually OK, but the quality of ministry services offered is poor.
- Where there are many churches, people get to pick and choose. Two churches might have equivalently good people, but one has a better youth ministry, or children's Sunday school program.
Then, community tastes & interests come in. These factors really are uncontrollable. For example, my nine years here have me convinced that the average "Christian" goes to church
- to feel emotional up-lift,
- make friends,
- help their kids learn good morals,
- have spiritual experiences,
- and do the good works they've been taught (by supposedly Protestant preachers!) they need to make it to Heaven
That mega-church pastor you know is right there in that demographic. Not all but some.
- He preaches at a middle school level, and wraps it up in a rock concert wrapping, like a taco.
- His goals are for the listener (judging by what I've heard him preach about) to have on-going religious experiences with Christ, do good works for Jesus, and join the church
Personally, the shoddy Bible interpreting he does makes me grit my teeth, and I'm not 17 years old, physically, emotionally, or in my knowledge of what the Bible teaches on worship, so I tremendously do not desire a rock concert at church.
While I would like to see our church have 1000 people next Sunday, what I am saying I do not want to see that at the expense of worship that God is not glorified. Personally I am not willing to forgo the teaching of God's word to see people come to be entertained emotionally. I personally believe we should draw people by the Word of God and not by emotional driven music, drama, dance, or plays, lights or power point.
Now do I mean you should't have any of these? No. First I believe the worship in the church should be directed toward the Lord. We should not direct our worship that is going to please the unsaved and believe by doing these things are going to please the Lord.
We must ask ourselves,
- what is the means whereby God brings people to the saving knowledge of Himself unto salvation?
- By what means does the Lord want us to use to bring others to saving knowledge of salvation?
- What are the means that God uses to see lost men and women to Him?
- And by what means does God want us as a church to bring those who are born again into the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ into a full grown Believer? Ephesians 4.
Just how did Charles Spurgeon have 10,000 people come to hear him preach and 1000 were saved? And he is called the "prince of preachers."
At the same time how does Joel Osteen have 34,000 come to the church he is the pastor?
All I am saying if it takes a rock concert to get people come to church, I don't think I am willing to do that.
We have Johnny Edwards come to our church to sing and play the piano, because he loves the Lord, but if that is the only reason people come is to hear Johnny singing we have missed the point. If they come to our church, they get to hear Johnny singing or anyone for that matter, but we want them to come because they are going to hear the Word of God taught.
It's not a bait and switch ministry. Bait them with entertainment and then preach the Word to them. Or offer them a color HD TV if they come, just to get them there, and then switch to preaching the Word.
Oh but you say, 100's get saved with this kind of ministry? I hear of this each week in churches. So isn't it worth all the drama, etc to see people "saved? You might say 'Isn't one 32" HD TV worth seeing people saved?" Of course. But does God need all the drama to bring a sinner to himself?
WHAT IS THE MATTER THAT OUR CHURCH IS NOT GROWING YOU MIGHT ASK? Part two
I knew an evangelist who said he went to Philippians and 40,000 were saved in one revival meeting. Then next year the team could not find 100 of those people still in church. Billy Graham has said the same thing. Billy Graham said if 10 % were saved he would be happy.
Those who play in a church rock concert may with all their hearts desire to see people saved, I am sure many do. But is a rock concert the means that God wants us to use to draw the lost into this Kingdom?
But there are thousands of adult Kentuckians and Ohioans for whom this is exactly what they like. The majority of people around us want.
- weekly emotional up-lift (not Bible knowledge),
- a decent social life (not discipleship),
- and self-help (not a faith-alone theme, and definitely not the doctrines of grace).
- But, even though this sort of sensational, revivalist religious fare turns us off, we're forced to face it -- this is the community's taste, and we need to take it into account.
But what does it mean?
- It might mean that we might never draw noteworthy numbers, in this kind of man-centered, experience-centered religious culture.
- I don't know how it might be different in a bigger city. I know it's discouraging to think that our churches might be forced into being little niche churches, or refuges for people fleeing the squirt-cheese-in-a-can type quality of some of the big churches.
- But the Lord never promised to make all of us big.
What about ministries that stumble, or fail?
- I agree that it's a waste of time to paw around in the ashes of a failure.
- What good is finger-pointing, if the goal is to run a good ministry?
- We need to return to the first principles that apply to that sort of work, if we want to make sense out of a stumble.
- Example: suppose a house catches on fire and burns down because wiring was installed wrong. Somebody needs to know how wiring should go in, otherwise, how can we recognize what happened?: "Oh, there's the mistake! We needed to have done it this way." A post-mortem doesn't much good, unless we already have some idea what the thing should have been like.
Pastor/Teacher Charles e. Whisnant
I have being a member of the largest Sunday school in America in the 80's, I know when I see a crowd of people. I know what it looks like to see 10,000 people a year say they got saved and baptized. I have seen also the spiritual dead churches as well. I have studied The Purpose Driven Church workbooks. There is some good in all ministries, and my prayer is that God in some way will get the glory in how we glorify Him in the working out of His plan for the body of Christ.