It seems like these days your credibility is measured by how many people attend your church, or how big your audience is in general. If your church is small, then you are doing something wrong. If it is growing quickly, then the Lord is obviously blessing you. Right? Even some who say that “it’s not about numbers” might find a pastor with a 5 member church to possibly be a cult leader. And perhaps you think the same thing. One thing I’ve come to realize is that the largest events I’ve ever been to have either been secular events or heavy metal shows. Talk about numbers. For instance, in my life I have seen bands like Anthrax, Pantera, and the original lineup of Black Sabbath play to thousands of people. Put any of their names on a bill and you are guaranteed thousands of people showing up. Another thing I’ve noticed is that in each of these times not one word of Christ was spoken. Satan was certainly mentioned. In fact, Phil Anselmo of Pantera had closed out their show by saying, “Hail Satan.” Or take Islam, for instance. It is a religion that is bursting with growth. Are they preaching orthodox Christian doctrine? What exactly is the difference between these instances? How do we know for sure that the growth that occurs is as a result of being faithful to the integrity of Scripture?
Thursday, February 9, from 1-3 pm nine speakers will be getting together to talk church growth. It is a free online event called Easter Ninja. The speakers are some that I have written about here, and some that I’ve wanted to but never got around to. Troy Gramling (Potential church) is certainly no stranger to this blog. We’ve considered Bob Coy’s (Calvary Chapel) take on God’s sovereignty. David Hughes (Church by the Glades) is another pastor whose messages have been scrutinized here. The other speakers include Mark Batterson (National Community Church), Bob Franquiz (Calvary Fellowship), Casey Graham (givingrocket.com), Nelson Searcy (Journey Church), Eric Geiger (Vice President of Lifeway), and Shawn Lovejoy (Montain Lake Church). It’s like a who’s who of people you don’t want advice from. Lord willing, before next Thursday, we can review sermons and the like from this list of pastors.
It’s not that the topic of church growth will only be spoken of generally. The purpose of this is laid out for us at www.easterninja.com. In very large, bold font, we read that these speakers will help “Your Church Double This Easter.” This is followed with,
“This Easter can be the biggest in your church’s history! Learn how to double your attendance this by Easter as you hear from 9 of the church’s top Pastors.”
9 of the church’s top pastors? The stuff we reviewed from the pastors mentioned were Scripturally abusive. What exactly makes them part of the “top” pastors? The size of their congregation. In fact, consider the following image. Look at the descriptions under Troy, David, and Bob Coy:
There are statistics for how large their congregations are. So and so has the __________ fastest growing (or largest) church in the US. And this, no doubt, is geared to lend credibility to the particular speaker. As we continue reading, we come to a list of things we are to learn from this conference:
– Reach more unchurched than ever before
– Mobilize your congregation to invite their friends
– Be inspired to believe that God wants to use your church
– How to promote your services so your whole community is knocking on your door
– Unleash creativity that engages your listeners
I’m wondering where the sixth point is where they will teach you how to properly teach the Scriptures. It seems like it is a conference on how to be a good advertiser or promo guy. When I have been to downtown Fort Lauderdale, I notice that there are a lot of promoters for clubs. They are always handing out flyers or offering drink specials. I wonder if they had to sit through similar classes.
They are teaching you how to spread the good news of the church. Being a promoter for your church is the wrong focus. Jesus said that we are to make disciples as we go on with our day, baptizing them and teaching them everything He commanded.
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
I’m not saying that inviting someone to church is a sin, but we ought to be about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should be promoting the fact that by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, your sins will be forgiven. This should be the main thing these pastors teach because they are so dead set on remaining relevant. The gospel is a message that is relevant to everyone because everyone sins everyday and all day long.
It seems to me that you invite them to the church, and somehow, with the creativity of your speech and production, the audience should be captivated enough to stay. I’ve been in churches like this. Troy Gramling’s church was one of them. The people certainly profess to believe the gospel, but could barely describe it and are completely ignorant about the Scriptures. What they understand about the Bible couldn’t fill a mouse’s nostril. And all of this because their church and pastor spend their time styling every message for unbelievers. I’d say that these pastors just keep feeding the congregants milk, but the truth is, it’s normally just poison. Self-affirming pop-psychology, and a use of the Scriptures that shoves Jesus aside and places you at the center. Truth is, if these guys started being faithful to the text of Scripture, chances are, their attendance would spiral downward. I’m not saying that 5 member churches are the only faithful ones, but being faithful to the Word of God most likely won’t make you the 8th fastest growing church in America.
Have you ever noticed Jesus’ church growth skills?
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”
61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
66As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
You know, I bet Jesus could’ve learned a thing or two about how to have people knocking down His door, or how to captivate people with His speech. Look at verse 60. He should have learned to not make the message so difficult. And here we have the formula – because Jesus was so difficult, many of His disciples walked away from Him. I wonder if the Scripture is giving us a lesson here on how to keep people captivated by not being difficult? Don’t count on it. Scripture gives us the answer here. These men didn’t believe because they had no life. It’s not that they lived in a basement with their moms. It was that they were spiritually dead. The Spirit gives life (v. 63). Their only hope was that the Father would grant them faith and repentance (v. 65). The Father hadn’t, so they walked away.
As with any event that has yet to start, I am not going to assume what will be spoken there. For now, we can only wait. From the looks of it though, it’s going to be pretty bad.