This morning I read the last few chapters in Isaiah and these words stood out from them:
“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”Isaiah 66:2b, ESV
When I look at the church growth experts and review their strategies for building megachurches, I don’t see a lot of humility and contrition. Instead, I see a lot of words about “vision casting”, marketing plans, branding and worship service dynamics. We have pastors that act more like CEO’s rather than shepherds of their people. We have church leaders who frame a vision and then build a team of like-minded supporters rather than allowing disparate gifts to operate for the good of the church body.
Too much of what is written about building and managing a church could be equally relevant for managing any publicly traded company. Just scrub out the nominal references to God and the Bible and substitute more politically correct jargon and you’re good to go for a press release or employee pep rally.
I have served in leadership at a couple of large churches and we never began a meeting with prayers of repentance nor did we spend time pleading with God to provide wisdom and leading for the congregation. Usually the meeting proceeded with the nuts and bolts of following the growth plan after a nominal prayer asking God’s blessing and perhaps a short devotional. I am saddened by this and repent of my passivity in participating in it.
Perhaps I am becoming a curmudgeon. But I wonder if we have made the American church into something that God does not intend it to be. Do we cause God to weep when he sees the gap between what we are and what we should be? I’m pretty sure that God is not impressed by the big buildings, multiple campuses and large budgets.
I don’t think that we can place too much stress on Jesus’ statement about the responsibility for building the church. It is his; he claimed the responsibility and the resurrection proves that he has the power to do it.
If Jesus will build it and if Jesus has the power to do it, maybe we should spending more time in prayer asking him how he wants us to participate in that building than we do in creating our own strategies.
We might get to a better destination if we let him steer.