These are some thoughts that God gave me to share with the church at our last members meeting. It is such an exciting time to be apart of the local body of Christ. To see people join the mission of CF, to see unbelievers hear and believe the gospel and to watch Christ receive all the glory. All these things are very exciting but at the same time, very dangerous. Here is how:
1) We can grow so much numerically that we water down spiritually.
Church growth is not of the devil, but if we are not careful it can be a mighty tool in his hands. We get excited when multiple guests come visit the church and new faces come to be on mission with CF. The devil can take this excitement and make the growth of the church a weakness.
If we are not careful people begin to slip through the cracks. People who were once transparent and authentic can begin to hide in sin and not be noticed. Others who came with a passion to serve can feel less needed and then stagnant in their faith. The church is called to grow numerically as the lost come to Christ, but in order to be the biblical church we must not let growth smother the fire that Christ is building for His name through loving fellowship and accountability.
2) We can grow so much on the inside that we forget about people on the outside.
One of the most exciting things about being a new church plant in Bowling Green KY is to be on mission everyday to our city. This is why we have desired to have our heart for the city reflected in the life of the church. Every Sunday night we come to the church for the purpose of going out in the city. Going out to pick up children to teach them the good news in the church. Going out to round up teenagers to be transformed into the image of Jesus. And going out to pray for the hurts and needs of our city as we go door-to-door.
The danger is when the crowd grows on Sunday mornings and the people who we fellowship with grows on Sunday night. Then, if we are not careful, we have OUR needs, OUR hurts, OUR plans. OUR budgets before our eyes and they are left outside of our doors and outside of our mission.
3) We grow so comfortable that we neglect being risky for the gospel.
This could be the one that has consumed the church in America more than any others. I heard Al Jackson, a pastor in Auburn, AL, say that 12 billion dollars was received in the offering plates of Southern Baptist churches last year, but only 2.5 cents of every dollar went to international missions. We have become way to comfortable in our churches when our budgets and salaries grow larger, our buildings are built taller, and programs increase and increase, yet we are not willing to give our lives and money away to the nations and to a dying world.
We need to be like Peter in Acts. After seeing growth in the church, he did not fold his hands and get cozy in his Christian community. Instead, he got risky in his faith. Standing up to the leaders in his city proclaiming, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” We need to become risky and bold, rather than lazy and soft.
4) We grow so big that God gets so small.
There is no place in the Bible that you can point to and say that church growth is wrong. We should desire to see people come to saving faith in Jesus and to give their lives to fellowship with other believers. This is true whether we are talking about a church of 50 growing past 100 or a church of 5,000 growing over 10,000.
The problem is when God gets robbed of the glory. When we say “look at the people that we led to Christ. See how great our preacher’s preaching is on Sunday. Come and experience the best fellowship at our church and the greatest worship in our services.” If we are not careful we can create a Christ Fellowship kingdom rather than Christ’s Kingdom.
For the glory Christ, let us live in such a way that we do not neglect our spiritual growth, the mission field we have been called to, the Spirit of boldness we have been granted, or the God we have been called to serve. Because if we do forget, maybe we won’t kill the church, but God will kill it for us.