I’ve been reading a lot today about the current decline of churches, and what to do about it. Some suggest doing everything with excellence, keeping a close eye on the cleanliness of your facilities and assuring that there’s always adequate parking. Some suggest that we must simply be more friendly to guests than we’ve been. Some suggest the answer is in training up small group leaders, empowering them to lead and multiply.
I think all of these things have their place, and it may very well be that many churches need to become more aware of these things in order to break out of stagnation. But I think there’s a much more basic characteristic God wants us to have before He provides us with growth.
We need to realize that we’re not perfect enough to reach even one lost person with the good news of Jesus Christ. We need to humble ourselves before God and cry out to Him, realizing that we can’t minister, or even live, without Him, and ask that He would use us despite our weaknesses.
God wants us to do everything with excellence for His glory. God wants us to be friendly. And God wants us to train people to teach and reach others. But the greatest thing we most often lack is the desperation for God to move in power!
That’s the whole point of the gospel. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We could do nothing to save ourselves. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And the same Spirit than raised Christ from the dead gives life to us!
We believe all this when it comes to salvation, but then when we start talking about church health and growth, we think it somehow depends on us. It doesn’t! Christ promised that He would build His Church. I think we run into so much stagnation because we’re trying to build what Christ promised He would build.
The formula for church growth is simple. We simply need to bow before God, confessing our weakness, and then faithfully preach the gospel. Because Jesus promised, “When I am lifted up…I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)