The previous article focused on the fact that the local church will not grow unless there is a desire to grow. Other things are also essential. One of them is the need to recognize that the world needs the church to grow.
It is not enough that a few in the local congregation think in such terms; it needs to be the mind-set of the whole church. In many places, we’ve lost that mind-set. What church growth efforts that are made aren’t motivated by that need. Thus, the focus is more about “us” than it is about “them.”
Suppose that a local municipality is rapidly increasing in size. In order to provide essential services to its citizens, it sets aside a significant amount to build a new fire station. Traffic flow studies are conducted, the optimum site is located, and land is purchased. Next come the decisions about the size of the firehouse, and then the architects go to work designing the perfect station.
The fire marshal sees a great opportunity to erect a firehouse that everyone in the area can be proud of. The fire chief and his assistants begin to make suggestions about what should be included to accommodate the firemen assigned to work out of the new facility. More experts are called in; and decisions about sleeping quarters, bathrooms, the kitchen area, and the entertainment room are wrestled with. Interior designers offer suggestions about color schemes, flooring, and lighting. Experts are consulted to ensure that the most energy-efficient heating and cooling units are installed. Thoughtfulness is given to handicap accessibility and to using all the latest green technology. Soundproofing the sleeping quarters and adequate parking for the employees are taken into consideration. Technology is a major area of focus. The facility will be equipped with the latest WiFi and satellite components on the market so that both on-duty and off-duty employees can have access to all forms of media. The game room is going to be a hit with all the firemen. Eventually, all the decisions are made, and the construction is complete. The cost to finish the project involves huge budget overruns, but the final product is beautiful and has every amenity to make it a great place to work.
And that’s the problem. Believe it or not, fire calls do come in; and the firemen have to make their runs. It’s frustrating because they have the latest fire suppression systems in their facility. They have all the required fire extinguishers and more in reserve. They have classroom facilities to educate anyone who wants to know about fire safety and fire prevention. From the mayor to the fire marshal to the youngest rookie, there is a general consensus that the citizens should spend more time at the firehouse and take full advantage of its open-door policy. The firemen consistently win every competition and have proven themselves to be knowledgeable about firefighting and can demonstrate that to visitors at any time. It’s really a bit inconvenient to have to make fire runs because it takes away from what could be done in the facility.
Our world is just like that community. It NEEDS firemen a lot more than it needs a state-of-the-art firehouse. It NEEDS fire trucks more than it needs a place where well-fed firemen can relax in between calls. See, we’ve lost sight of the world’s needs, while we’ve exhausted ourselves meeting our needs. Just as most houses have a water hose or two and a couple of smoke detectors, the local community has an abundance of denominational choices that provide services. But they don’t preach the whole counsel of God, and they don’t teach the lost how to become New Testament Christians. The community still NEEDS the church to go out into the community and teach the truth. It NEEDS the church to grow so that more saints can reach out to more lost people who think they’re already in good spiritual shape. We have to see beyond what we are comforted by and comfortable with–we have to see that our friends and neighbors are LOST, in spite of having a church home, and they need us to share THE faith and our hope.
DC Brown ©2016