For over a month now, I have wanted to blog about the current season that I see CCF in. First of all, you need to know that I think that much of church life (and life in general) is seasonal. Ecclesiastes was not playing when it drove that point home. There is a time for everything under the sun. Well, at some point soon, I will write a few posts about how I view our current season. Until then, I thought that Kevin Stewart's recent comment on one of my posts really sets the stage for what I will share. It's good stuff. Check it out:
I love Paul's statement in 1 Cor 3:6 on planting and watering. I think that is THE seminal verse for church growth. We are meant to be gardeners. Gardeners don't make things grow, they tend gardens. They do everything they can to make sure that the garden is healthy and then let God do the growing.
I've also seen that growth is not just a one dimensional thing. In any healthy church there will be seasons of growth in width (numbers) as well as in depth (discipleship), often alternating. The only true measure of growth is the area (width times depth).
Numbers is the only growth that is easy to measure so, sadly, it is the one that most of us focus on. This becomes a real problem when we focus on it to the exclusion of more important things, like truth and the Word. Turn on the TV and you'll see that it's really easy to grow in numbers - just sell out the Gospel and tell the people what they want to hear.
Gardening is hard work, but it is the only way to bring healthy growth. It also takes lots of patience. But the good news is that God takes care of the really hard work - changing hearts.
Pastors, don't bear a burden you were never meant to bear. Don't try to grow numbers or change hearts; let God do that. Tend your garden - plant seeds, water liberally and pull weeds (un-Biblical ideas). Free yourself from the burden only God can carry and be free to tend your garden with joy.