No matter how thin you slice baloney, it’s still baloney. And, almost everything pastors are told about church growth is baloney. Most of it leads to frustration and disillusionment. Think about it. Most pastors have taken those trendy courses on church growth. If that is true, then why are so few churches growing?
Here’s the big lie: Fix your organization, your brand, and your staff, if you want your church to grow. And, hasn’t this worked in many cases? In many cases? No. But has it worked in some cases? Yes, but only because even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while.
How then can we explain the overnight success of some church-plants? If what you mean is more like a franchise then, yeah, that’ll work—because they pour millions into establishing a franchise copy of an existing mega church. Hello? Is anyone offering you millions of dollars and vast expertise to help you build your church?
Given enough marketing money, I could get a thousand people to come watch yogurt mature. But is it a crowd you want, or is it a Holy Spirit-built army of Christ-following converts? To paraphrase Paul, “If I master all the tricks in the how-to-fill-a-church seminar, but do not have a congregation who deeply loves Jesus, I am just another mega-church. If I have a room full of a thousand spoiled spectators, it profits me nothing.”
Some of our good friends shake their heads at the advertising we use for our tent crusades. Our cards say, “Come and experience the love and power of Jesus Christ.” Our friends almost feel sorry for our lack of salesmanship and seem embarrassed that we are being so obvious about our intentions. What they don’t see is what kind of crowd we want. We want people who are hungry for a miracle. We are not trying to hide anything, and people are weary of being tricked. But more importantly, our cards are soaked in prayer. The crowds come for the right reason—because they have been drawn by the Holy Spirit.
I have many things to say about how churches can grow, but I am going to focus on my favorite factor in growth—one that is greatly underrated: THE EXCITEMENT OF THE PASTOR. Here are the reasons an excited leader is both powerful and crucial.
1. Excitement is infectious. A sincerely excited leader has an amazing impact on people. The electricity of a leader who is genuinely excited will draw the crowds without any gimmicks or hype.
Here is an example: Transit authorities in the Northeast have spent a lot of money on advertising, begging people to use their services, and they still can’t get commuters to use public transportation. Meanwhile, millions pour into Disneyland to ride trains that don’t go anywhere. The difference is excitement.
Fresh vision chases away depression. Even eloquence is at the mercy of excitement. We don’t need more teaching seminars. I fear we’ve been taught to death. We need to pour gasoline on our sermons, and light them on fire.
2. Excitement finds a way. The changes in culture are dizzying. The challenge to build great works for God today is daunting. However, if you leave the challenge in the hands of genuinely excited vessels of God, they will find a way. They have the relentless will to conquer by the simple use of prayer and obedience.
3. Excitement doesn’t care about things that don’t matter. The excited leader is not just living their dream, they are a walking miracle. Imagine Lazarus the day after he was raised from the dead. You couldn’t offend him. You couldn’t scare him and you couldn’t make him feel insecure.
Beloved brother and sister in the ministry, we are not far from being a Lazarus! The truly excited pastor doesn’t care about criticism—doesn’t need the approval of men—doesn’t dread a lack of funds. Paul wrote, “Yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors…”
If an excited pastor is a boon to a church, then there is nothing more devastating than a discouraged and broken hearted shepherd. The last thing that leader ever needs to do is go to a church growth seminar. Any pastor who is wounded and broken from the thankless task of ministering to a fickle generation takes a terrible risk by going to a church growth seminar. Even if they get some growth from the shallow advice being given, it will gravely disappoint them because a wounded heart won’t feel any joy in success. And, if they don’t see any growth, it could be devastating since it reinforces hopelessness and can lead to despair.
Have you ever broken a pastor’s heart? If so, the damage went far beyond what you realize.
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Unprofitable to say the least!
If I could blend the fresh fire that is in the heart of a first year Bible college student with the wisdom of a pastor who has been forged in the crucible of battle, I would have a weapon that is guaranteed to shake the very timbers of hell! Get your excitement back—by the power of the Holy Spirit—and church growth will happen!
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