Something has been on my mind recently that I want to start processing. As we seek to walk in the plans that the Lord intends for us as a church we have to find a way to understand and balance our part with God's part!
Our part: Excellence! Skilled ministry. Irresistible and welcoming environments. Creativity and relevance that creates buzz and draws people. Great worship, compelling church services, programming, creating meaningful places for people to connect, ensuring spaces for people to be discipled! We have OUR PART that we must do. Clean the building, pay the bills, advertise, study, train, pray, plan, anticipate, practice, make it visual, make it sound right, make it appealing....shall I continue? We have our part to do! From defective Old Testament sacrifices to New Testament encouragements that whatsoever we do, do it excellently as unto the Lord...we our called to do our part and do it well! Luke 14:23 says that we ought to go out on the streets and roads and compel them to come in! In context, once they did this...Jesus taught in the most creative and memorable way anyone had ever seen. He knew that the greatest message deserved the great packaging. We cannot minimize our responsibility to bring excellence everywhere we can!
Now, here is the challenge. FINDING BALANCE! Balance between our part and God's part! In my opinion, one without the other will not be effective or sustainable.
God's part: The book of Acts and the start of the early church leaves me with a really clear conclusion. We will receive power to be witnesses and many will be added to our number when the holy spirit comes on us!!! So, the move, power and presence of the Holy Spirit is the answer to church growth. We need to be seeking the Lord in fervent prayer. We must seek the presence, power and gifts of the Holy Spirit of God! The greatest church services, small groups, messages and music in the world without the touch of Almighty God are just another business venture. Might make it a while, but will likely fail.
Now....dream a radical dream with me for just a moment. WHAT IF every church in the world decided that the balance of our part and God's part was important enough to take seriously. Imagine what would happen if churches and church leaders spent 50% of their time on their part and 50% of their time seeking the Lord as He does his part? What would happen if we actually got this right? If you think that churches are spending anywhere near 50% of their time and energy calling down the presence of God, seeking Him in prayer and listening to His voice, you are cordially invited to crawl out from the rock that you are under. We spend the huge majority of our time and energy operating in our own strength (and pleasing the reached). I wonder how many lost people would flood our doors if we made this one change with how we spend our time.
I welcome your thoughts on this one. I will likely write on this more one day. Maybe in a book.