Friday, November 05, 2010

Moving people along...

It's easy to stagnate in our faith, isn't it? When a new church begins, there is just a lot to be excited about. People are baptized. New families are reached. Growth, it seems, is all around.

But what happens when the new people have reached all the "easy" contacts in their circle of relationships. Numerical growth plateaus. Does spiritual growth? Let's hope not! The whole church settles down a bit, as the Lord sends tests and allows persecution. New faith becomes stronger, week by week. People who just came for the novelty of it all stop coming. Maturity begins, in small but significant ways. People say no to some things and yes to others. Irritable personalities become a bit less so. Unwise spending habits improve just a bit. Worry gives place to trust.

But let's not lose sight of those growth times, those spurts of Spirit-inspired blessing and joy as new people become integrated into a congregation of believers, a community of faith. Let's not assume that once we've reached a certain numerical level, that the church pretty much won't grow after that. Of course, this never happens, right? My thinking is that it happens almost always! We justify this lack of growth in the spiritual maturity that we hope/assume/are pretty sure is happening. It is...but how much spiritual growth can happen without a significant focus outward?

What if the spurt times are the norm? What if the church should constantly be preparing leaders that can only lead if there are more people for them to lead! What if natural, spiritual growth, evangelism, discipleship and the creation of young, gifted leaders prompted, indeed made necessary, the planting of new churches, instead of the other way around (I want to plant a church, who is going to lead it, and where are the people)?

How would you train people sufficiently? How would you keep control of something like that? As far as control, the Holy Spirit I suspect could keep things going. The same answer for leadership development. In the heat and light of a context of true Christian growth, character is formed, perhaps better than anywhere else.

A shot of the incredible view of the volcanoes from JM, last evening.

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