Just preparing to speak next week to some leaders in Nottingham, they lead churches of various sizes I’m told. A few thoughts start to tumble together…
What strikes me is that God is no respecter of persons. God doesn’t love any church leader more than any other, nor is he more or less willing or able to bless me, Rick Warren, or you. The same law of gravity applies to us, and the same principles for church growth (or decline) apply too. It isn’t about how big we are now, it’s about whether we’re willing to have BIG IDEAS.
Conflating a few parables of Jesus: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in a field, it will grow all by itself. Everything planted in the kingdom is supposed to grow.But an enemy came in and sowed weeds among the wheat, to stop growth and impede progress.
He’s still doing it! For growth to happen, we have to believe it can – but he’s sowing seeds of doubt in our minds that exponential growth is possible (well, not here, not now anyway). As a result we develop a lack of growth expectation and excuse ourselves for it.
Jesus comes to the tree looking for and expecting fruit. He has a right to expect it. He tells us that if we abide in him we’ll produce MUCH of it. So, are you?
We’re pushing out as a church at Ivy Manchester. You have to go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is! Last Sunday we moved (again) out of our comfort zone to a larger venue, the Wythenshawe Forum – guess what – it was pretty full! And we added over 20 members. (A lot of people don’t want to count – because they don’t want to know how badly they’re doing – but we know how many were fed loaves and fishes, and we know how many converted at Pentecost. Because someone counted. Count people because people count!).
This week we’re sending a Cluster out to meet at a hotel to make room in our usual building, the week after we’re back at the Forum. I fully expect we’ll have grown again. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Pray for us!
Someone will ask, “Why do we want a big, growing church.” It’s fashionable to downplay that. I recently talked with someone who said he’d “given up on doing church a few years ago, because ‘I want to be church on my street.’
I asked, “How many have come to faith through your church since you made that decision?”
The answer was predictably, none. Many so called ‘missional’ communities have that in common.
I want our church to grow and impact this whole city for Jesus. We want to please the Lord – by bearing much fruit. We want to bring glory to God by making a bigger splash here: David killed Goliath, “So the whole earth will know there is a God…” What we Brits think of as big churches really aren’t anyway if you travel at all in the world! There are only 12 churches in the UK that have more than 1000 in attendance. God started the church off with 3000 in a day!