Friday, May 9, 2008

Accumulation vs. Integration

It occurs to me that when Jesus looked out at a crowd, he was not moved to anxiety over their numbers. He saw who was there and had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.

The God-exalting love of Jesus makes our earthly ambitions of "growth" so much garbage.

When you look out at the people in your church, be they 5 or 500, 100 or 1000, do you ask yourself first "How can I bring in more?" or "How can I disciple the ones I've got?"

It sounds like an obvious question, and you can certainly ask both legitimately, but the bursting-at-the-seams megachurches who are now measuring the dissatisfaction and relative spiritual immaturity of their multitudes are evidence that only one question has predominated.

T.M. Moore writes:
We’ve been seeking crowds, not disciples. We’ve considered every possible means of getting the most people into our buildings and keeping them there, and we’ve attracted people on the basis of mere self-interest, so that what we have are congregations ecstatic to belong to some place that, in the name of the Lord, takes their self-interest as seriously as they do.

The American Church is addicted to the conspicuous consumption of the culture it means to transform.
Would that we were as focused and intentional on the integration of current attenders into the radical life of discipleship to Jesus as we are on accumulating more and more and more bodies in our worship programs.

HT: Cruciform Life


Diane R said...

Excellent post. I once had a pastor who one Sunday told us that some in the church were upset that more people weren't coming (we had about 150 at the time). That pastor wisely said, "Please let me learn how to be a good pastor to the 150 we have and then I can be a good pastor to more."

nhe said...

foolishness confounds wisdom.......small confounds big......poor confounds rich........I love the ways of God - but my daily existence runs counter to them.......

Pete Wilson said...

This is huge Jared. At Cross Point we work really hard to integrate verse accumulate. While I'm sure we do both we try to keep our focus on health and not growth. Thanks for the great reminder.

Anonymous said...

what is the american church?

is there not just one church?

that church is the body of Christ and it is all in the body.

when you speak of the Church it is not just groups in america. you can not just generally talk about church or americans. all people are unique and God knows their heart even if something looks generally true. it is not very helpful to talk about something or someone. so how does one go about talking directly to the body of Christ?....well, i would think prayer to Christ. the point is that you see the church as groups led by pastors...and i see the church as a very large body of souls led by Christ spread throughout history and the world.

and i agree that humans in the body are addicted to many things of the world. we us these things in place of looking to God. we all do it. all the people and ministers as well as disciples as well as any one else. name one Christ follower that is not addicted to something of the world.

i think it is good to be aware of our misplaced dependencies. and take those to God and talk to Him about it.

the changes that you seek start within your self. they are true for all or us. we all need the transformation that is taking place within us and the body. i think it might be good to address misplaced dependence by describing the need for it in your self and in the body as a whole.

Anonymous said...

if this does not make sense, i will also say that i see the desire for accumulating larger groups as a minister of a group is dependence on something other than God. i call that misplaced dependence. just the same as any other desire of the world that is used by us to try and fill our own needs that are actually to be filled by God. how much do we all really do this? a assume...many times a day. this is a huge subject of personal faith.

Anonymous said...

the focus should be...well...God.

now what i should do
and what i actually do
as a someone that belongs to Christ and to God.

we could all take a good look at that.

who and what do i look to.
what do i desire.
who am i wanting to please

if each of us asked any of these questions of ourselves i think many things would be changing in many lives.