I find the rapid growth of my church both exciting and worrisome. On one hand growth does indicate that they are bringing people to God. However, what happens when a church and its style catches on and rapid growth takes over? Church leaders can easily get caught up in the apparent success and then start craving more. Without great care a church can become less about fellowship and relationship and the teaching of the Word, and more about growth models, mission statements, outside consultants, and brand recognition. More, more, more. We so easily risk raising up church growth and numbers as an idol. Where does healthy growth led by God-first motives and Spirit leading, separate from the ego of the church leaders?
In part III of this blog series I mentioned Francis Chan, who was climbing up the ladder of celebrity preacher. He was leading a church in California that was following the rapid growth trend. He had written two mainstream books that ensured that his church's growth trend and his celebrity would increase. Yet at the pinnacle of all of this, he stepped aside from his pastorship. He felt that he was trapped in a rat race that was such a fast-paced, push-push-push style, that he had no time to feed his sheep, to build relationships. I admire him for leaning on his God and not getting caught up in that game of worrisome compromise. That sin of focussing on self.
I don't have answers to all of my worries. I am trying to maintain a level of excitement as my church grows, but I am more than anxious. I am proceeding with caution and measuring each step, each message, to be sure that I am hearing the truth. I pray regularly for my pastor and his staff to stay connected day by day with God. This is His body, not ours. I pray that they would make sure that they never compromise His Way for their way.
(Part 4 of 4)