Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Church Growth: What Did Jesus Do?

Now That's a Crowd!
In Luke 14: 25 Jesus had huge crowds following him. Some of his crowds were between 4,000 and 20,000 total people. If only my ministry could generate such a following!

What would any of us pastors do in our day with such numbers? We would probably take up an offering. And we might even build larger buildings as monuments to the validity of our ministry.

Often, we evaluate our effectiveness in terms of numbers. A pastor recently asked me, “What do you run on a Sunday morning?” He wanted to know how many people attended our Sunday morning services. I believe I choked out a less than an agreeable response to his enquiry.

Not Your Crowd-Pleaser
Funny thing is, Jesus wasn’t impressed with numbers. When the large gathering followed him after he fed the thousands, Jesus said some pretty strange things.

This sure wasn’t a crowd-pleaser: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves” (John 6:53). In John 6:66 many of his followers stopped walking with him as a result.

I don’t get the impression that Jesus was concerned with the quantity of his followers, but the quality of his followers. He said things like, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me,” and “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (We rarely hear this message any more. It might offend some people.)

And finally, when great crowds followed him in Luke 14, he said something that was sure to send them home. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Maybe Jesus could have used some help from some of our clever, twenty-first century evangelism and church-growth techniques.


Anonymous said...

True, seems in the eternal eyes of Jesus, character is of utmost importance. Without it our enemy has many avenues of accusation.

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