Church Growth: Ministering Faithfully But Not Growing
Notes from WCA’s Defining Moments: Ask Bill
How should those who have ministered faithfully but can’t seem to get their own churches to grow very much feel in this era of mega-churches?
Bill struggles with this question because there are thousands of pastors in places all over the worldwho will never see what Bill has seen in his years at Willow. Some of them are in rural areas with small populations, and a mega-church there wouldmean having 100 people. There are other people who are in under-resourced communities where they’ll never be able to hire a staff or build a building.
The prophet Jeremiah was given a very difficult ministry from God — to try to convince a rebelliouspeople to stop rebelling. Every time Jeremiah would open his mouth, he would wind up in stocks or getting beaten orthrown in the bottom of a cistern. Then, he gets hauled off to captivity and writes the book of Lamentations. From what we know from the Scriptures, his life never resulted in any kind of record-setting ministry. He wouldn’t have been a conference speaker or a book writer, and yet he was every bit as faithful to God as someone who gets a different kind of assignment.
For reasons Bill will never understand, God put Willow in suburban Chicago during its most explosive period of growth. All they had to do to grow the church numerically was do a decent ministry in an exploding community.
There are so many people who love God as much as Bill does who get a different kind ofassignment, and they cannot measure their success against mega-churches.
The ultimate measure of success is being able to answer yes to these two questions:
- Did I hear God’s mission for my life accurately?
- Am I carrying it out faithfully?
If you answer yes to those two questions, then you’re going to hang out with Jeremiah and others who have had a hard ministry and there’s going to be rejoicing for the rest of eternity.