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Monday

Church Growth

One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in 1 Corinthians. It starts in 1 Corinthians 1:18 and concludes at the end of chapter 3. The main focus of this section of scripture is that God does not do things the same way the world does things. As a matter of fact, God delights in taking things and people that the world deem foolish and useless and using them to accomplish His plans.
If we really believe this passage to be true and to paint an accurate picture of how God has chosen to work in our world, then why do so many people look to worldly methods to grow churches?

Why are we so concerned with slick marketing campaigns and theater quality production? Sure, it seems a logical theory that if we make what we do entertaining and exciting then people will want to join us. It also makes a great deal of sense to try to appeal to the natural appetites and tendencies that people already possess to encourage them to come to church. If we can only make them see how relevant, how now, how exciting Jesus is then they will want to follow Him.

The problem with these tactics is that they don't line up with the 1 Corinthians account of God's standard operating procedure. Consider these verses:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. -   1 Corinthians 1:25

But God chose the what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. - 1 Corinthians 1:27

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. - 1 Corinthians 3:18-19



Again we see that God has every intention of accomplishing His purposes in ways that the world cannot understand. God's ways appear foolish to this world. If the lost world looks at your plan to grow your church and it makes perfect sense to them, chances are you are off target somewhere.  If we are doing things God's way, then there will be some confusion and naysaying from among the lost and worldly.

The next question that comes to mind is why would God choose to do things this way? Doesn't this idea of using foolishness as wisdom just make our jobs that much harder? Consider 1 Corinthians 1:29 and 1 Corinthians 2:5. God's ways ensures that we have no place to boast in His success and that our faith must remain solely in Him and not in ourselves, our gifts, or our great plans. All the glory for all success goes to Christ.

Back to our original question: Why then do so many embrace worldly methods and ideas to grow the church?

I think there are multiple reasons:

  1. Deep down we don't really trust God with the results of what He has given us.
  2. We don't understand the depth of the depravity of human nature as revealed by scripture.
  3. We have bought into the lie that worldly methods can produce Godly results.
  4. We don't really believe that God knows what He is doing or that His gospel really is the power of God for salvation.
I will delve into these four ideas in upcoming posts.

What do you think based on 1 Corinthians 1-3 is God's plan for His church?  What is the most important thing that we should be doing?






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Sheldon Clowdus

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