So what's your church known for? What do you just wish you had at your church? What's the blank that gets filled in the statement "If we just did blank, our church would explode!"? What do you think the draw at your church is?
What comes to mind? Your pastor's compelling sermons? The ample parking lot? The full, high-quality worship band? Your better-than-average sound system? Actually having youth in your youth program?
Well, here are three beliefs that I have in regard to church growth.
Have more babies!
Just kidding, although, this does work. And no, I'm not announcing anything.
He is building His church
That was your cue to relax, to take the pressure off of both yourself and on the list of "if we just had blank..." It's on God to build His church. It's on us to follow and obey Him. How silly is the farmer that worries and paces and frets about the corn he planted yesterday. "Will it grow? Will I be able to do this? What if...?" And then goes and digs it up to check. Dude! Relax. Do what you know to do - fertilize, water, weed, and then let the sun, time, and the DNA locked up in the seed do its thing. The Maker knows how to...make. The Builder of His church knows how to...build.
The revelation of Jesus
Jesus made an extraordinary statement to Peter in Matthew 16. The conversation (in the vernacular of the Amplified Bible) went like this:
He (Jesus) said to them, "But who do you [yourselves] say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Then Jesus answered him, "Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros-a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra-a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]."
It's almost like Jesus is saying "On this revelation, I will build my church." Like the huge rock, the foundation, is the revelation of Jesus, and Peter (who's like a little rock) is blessed to have had that revelation gifted to him. What if Jesus wasn't saying "Peter, you are the foundation of My church" but rather "The revelation that's given to you is the foundation of My church"?
So as a model, we don't need to look to a person (pastor, worship leader, fill-in-the-blank) to be what the church is built on. Now, of course, leadership is important, crucial even. But people, buildings, systems, and philosophies aren't what the church is built on. It's the revelation of Jesus. Do you buy that?
: It's not that the band is hot. It's that they point us to Jesus, that they don't get in the way of the revelation, they're not distracting.
: It's not that the preacher is amazing. It's that the preacher is invisible and Christ becomes center stage as a result of the message.
: It's not that the people are welcoming. It's that we experience the love of God tangibly through their actions.
So back to my original question. What do you think the draw is at your church? Is it the revelation of Jesus or a shiny and polished rock? To be clear, I'm not speaking against polished rocks. They're just not the foundation, or the object of our pursuits. He is.