I’ve been to these typical church growth conferences, and so have many of you. The likely scenario will feature some supposedly successful megachurch pastor speaking to a group of insecure pastors who want to be just like him and grow their church to mega-proportions as he has. Hardly ever will you find a smaller church pastor addressing ministers in conferences like these.
Nowadays, size is the big indicator of spirituality and the new target of a successful church, which in itself is such a warning sign of just how far we’ve drifted from New Testament standards, and the criterion we use to gauge success in ministry. We subconsciously believe that the “little” guy has nothing to say that could help us.
The nucleus of what is taught in many of these conferences goes something like this:
“If you keep doing these ‘old’ things you’re doing now, your church will continue to decline and fail.”
“If you start doing these ‘new’ things, your church will grow and be a success.”
“If you gradually stop doing these things you’ve been doing, your church will draw more visitors and members.”
“If you implement this vision and strategy, your church will grow.”
The growth they are speaking of is of course, numerical growth.
Oh shepherd of the Lord, get your mind off the wisdom of men and put your mind on Jesus Christ. If the Lord has called you to shepherd a few families for the rest of your life, do it with joy and contentment, and you’ll have the same reward as the one called to shepherd multitudes.
Satan takes advantage of this insecurity in pastors and causes them to be obsessed with church growth and to find their identity in achieving it. It’s an inside problem. It’s a heart issue nobody wants to talk about or can see. I believe it is rooted in an orphan heart.
What do I mean by that?
An orphan heart is usually manifest in a man who did not receive the love of an earthly father or has not yet learned to receive the love of his heavenly Father. An orphan heart has lacked affirmation all his life and seeks it now through popularity, performance and achievement. An orphan heart is a heart longing and yearning for human acceptance and affirmation, especially among his peers.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being affirmed (we all need it) and there’s nothing wrong with numerical growth (it can be a great thing). The early church experienced great numerical growth is its beginnings, but it was never their goal; it wasn’t planned; it wasn’t their obsession as it seems to be today.
I’ve written a couple of other articles during the past few weeks on this subject because it is a huge problem in the thinking of many pastors.