Monday, May 17, 2021by Reverend Dan on May 17, 2021
“Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Doggonit . . . these devotionals are written to make you think . . . and the last one has me thinking. Remember, the one about inviting someone to church? I can’t get it out of my head.
The more I thought about it, the more I’ve thought about the comments pastors get from time to time: “Attendance is slipping, preacher, what are you going to do about it? We want the church to grow.”
Usually, at this point, that “I’ve got to fix this” mentality kicks in (even though church attendance is really on everyone, not just the preacher.) Us preachers start listening to the voice of the world and its solutions and say, “If only we (fill in the blank - change the look of the building, add new ministries, hire a marketing firm), we would grow.”
I’ve got news for you. No, we wouldn’t. You see, you need to get the house in order before you have company in. Stagnation in a church doesn’t have to do with “stuff”. It’s because you stopped connecting with people and have “sheltered in place”. When that happens, no matter what you do to get people in, as 20th century advertising guru David Ogilvy once said, “Great marketing just makes a bad product fail faster.”
The “form” of what we do, no matter how glitzy and glamorous, can never make up for substance. If the substance isn’t gospel centered – going out to make new disciples and building relationships and connecting with people – then the form really won’t matter. As a wise man once told me, “you can paint your car, but if the engine is seized up and there’s rust on the undercarriage . . .”
All too often, we get caught up in the form – like improving the building – but that building is just an end to a means, not an end in itself. If all you ever do is address the form, the underlying problems will never go away. I know of churches who decided the answer was to build a new building, and as a result, instead of being in the old building with a manageable budget and one problem, they were in a new building with a mortgage they couldn’t pay (a new problem) because the original problem was never addressed.
So, once again, I urge you, I beg you, I beseech you . . . invite somebody to church. It’s not that hard, I promise. But don’t do it so the church will grow. Do it so the kingdom will grow. And so that person will grow. All in the name of Jesus.
Lord make us Your disciples and use us to bring others to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.