Solomon wrote “Where there is no ox, the stall is clean.” Clean stalls are great. They look good. They smell good. They can even become the pride of the builder and the envy of stall spectators. However, without the ox, not much work is going to be accomplished. There lies the problem. An ox in the stall is going to get messy and those messes have to be cleaned up. We cannot expect the ox to do it.
Church growth is measured in two areas. First, there is spiritual growth. As God’s Word is preached, taught, and modeled to God’s people and as God’s people apply and practice what they are seeing and hearing from God’s Word, spiritual growth is the result. Second, there is numerical growth. As God’s people grow and become genuinely excited and passionate about their God and what they see Him doing in and through their lives – they cannot help but be attractive to many others who want God to do the same thing in their own lives. Numerical growth is the result.
People Make Messes
Everyone wants spiritual and numerical growth. But, when it happens, just like the ox in the stall, pastors in pulpits and people in pews make messes. All those messes have to be cleaned up and that takes time, effort, energy and a strong faith in our all-knowing God.
There are some in the church who say “I’m out of energy. We don’t need anymore growth and we surely do not need anymore messes to clean up. Let’s accept things as they are and settle down.” There are others who simply ‘like the way things are now,’ and would say “we do not need any more changes.” There are still others who are afraid of more people and the cost involved of facilitating those people and their spiritual growth. There are also those who want to move forward, reach as many people as they possibly can, and trust God for the wisdom and energy to clean up the messes.
Pastors and Churches
This is one reason why God gave Pastors to Churches. Pastors are to lead God’s flock with biblical wisdom and articulate a vision that will guide the church to both spiritual and numerical growth. Pastors clean up the messes. They do all of this so that both the church and the community know that God is alive, working in the lives of people, and receiving all the credit for His work.
The central theme of the Bible is “God receives all the glory.” Therefore, articulated and excited vision for the church is ultimately for God’s glory. If it is for any other reason, then eventually it will be exposed as worthless human reasoning and that vision will collapse. That is not to say that God-honoring vision isn’t redirected as time passes. Of course it is. That does not mean that God has changed, but our knowledge of what God is doing over a period of time does change, and we need to respond to that knowledge.
The question then becomes, “What is God-Honoring Vision?” To answer that question we will start with what it is not. God-honoring vision never emulates a man or a group of men. When an individual or group want to promote themselves or in some subtle way give themselves the credit for what God is doing – they must get ready for an eventual collapse. The greatest thing in all the world is to be a tool in the hand of God. However, we must consciously be aware that God does not need us to carry out His plan. His plan will be carried out with us or without us. I simply desire to be one of His sharp tools that He can use to do whatever He want – whether I like it or not. That is why God wants obedience to His word more than personal sacrifice. He receives all the glory.
So what then is the vision for Faith Baptist Church? What do we pray about and seek God’s direction for in the next 10 years? Come back to the blog on Monday. I will try to break it down in bite-sized chunks.