17 Jun 2013
How secure or permanently lodged is the perception in our culture that more is better? Do more rooms always make a better house? Does more money guarantee a better job? ? Do more people create a better church? In God’s word we read that we should live by faith and not by sight. But when we live by the principle of “more is better”, do we not rather walk by sight and displace judgment from the hand of God into our own?
An example of “more is better” can be seen in attitudes concerning our local churches. Because we come to believe the fallow fiction that “more is better” we are exposed to the dangerous thinking that in order to become better and more effective our church needs more people. While growth in our local bodies may be good, the perspective of our leaders and our people is critical. For when we become deeply committed to the perception that our church needs people we then naturally begin to develop ideas and means to attract people. Of course this is a natural response and may in some cases be good. However if we fail to be vigilant we could be working for growth in ways that oppose the plan and purposes of God.
How can this be? In truth our churches do not need people; rather the people we think we need in reality need our churches. They need the gospel truth regarding individual sin and personal salvation. They need the loving fellowship of a congregation of Spirit filled believers. They need the accountability and disciple making of loving and caring saints. They need to sit under the Spirit breathed preaching of the Word of God on a regular basis. Our churches do not primarily need people, people need our churches. What will more people bring? Perhaps more money to help payour staff, or more volunteers to staff our programs, or maybe just the good feeling that we are being blessed by God since we have more? But what about God? Does He have more?
It is surely a flawed perspective if we look for sinners or backslidden saints to save our churches by simply increasing our numbers at our Sunday gathering. We may aggressively attempt to take on the task that Jesus said was clearly His, to build His Church, while we diligently avoid the commands He gave us regarding our part of the work of His Church. Oversimplified Jesus commanded us to love God, love each other and make disciples teaching them to obey all that He commanded. We are further instructed to pray for God’s will to be done and for His kingdom to come.
It may be easier to organize people rather than love them. It sometimes seems more effective to hold classes on discipleship rather than to actually disciple individuals. Usually most of us would rather give a bit of money than to sacrifice valuable time or emotional energy. In short we tend to desire all the benefits of our church involvement all the while hoping we will not need to pay a very high cost. Are we searching for spiritual bargains?
We wonder at times why our efforts to build or grow a local church do not seem to be under the hand of God’s blessing. Of course we usually find ourselves in this frame of mind shortly after we have finished counting the number of attendees at a little gathering. Try as we may we have a good deal of difficulty getting away from counting the number of participants. We must pray for eyes to see what Jesus sees. Jesus seemed to have little concern for numbers. Of course His Word does clearly communicate what He could do with a few loaves and fish. But perhaps more telling is Jesus’ strategy to work three years primarily with twelve men. He actually did what He has commanded us to do, He made disciples.
When we fully subscribe to the “more is better” concept, it is very easy to fall into the means of this world to attempt to attract more people. If we allow this kind of thinking to rule in our minds we will be tempted to over focus on what the church can do for people. Since this seems to be our main means of securing more. Of course the church should be involved in serving people. However there is a very faint line when crossed where we tend to develop a crowd that is coming only to be served. Many of us have little difficulty giving a bit from our excess, but sacrifice, not our time or our money or our inconvenience.
Romans 14:17-18 (AMP)
17 [After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
18 He who serves Christ in this way is acceptable and pleasing to God and is approved by men.
Matthew 18:4 (AMP)
4 Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 9:34-35 (AMP)
34 But they kept still, for on the road they had discussed and disputed with one another as to who was the greatest.
35 And He sat down and called the Twelve [apostles], and He said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.
Our building the church often includes using the tools and strategies of this world to attempt to build God’s kingdom. One error that can come with the mentality that “more is better” is the perspective that the entire Christian experience is limited to this earth, since this is what we see. Not only is here on this earth all that really counts but we focus only on now, not later. These ideas are of course the primary tools used by Satan. He is the prince of now not later. He is the master of the mentality that this earth and our lives here should be our only concern. Growth in numbers in our gatherings is very often a flawed measure of the work of God in our midst.
If we find ourselves in the midst of folks who only desire to be served it may not be entirely their fault. It is certainly not God’s fault. Are we modeling a servant heart with an eternal perspective? Are we praying for ourselves and others to grow in the desire to serve even to the point of sacrifice? Is the idea of real sacrifice and seriously serving others going out of style on our watch? These, sacrificial serving along with prayer motivated by love are activities where more is truly better. How can we consistently sacrificially serve and pray for the work of God in our midst?
Galatians 5:22-25 (AMP)
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,
23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.
25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]
Jude 1:20-21 (AMP)
20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit;
21 Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—[which will bring you] unto life eternal. (emphasis added)
As authentic believers in Jesus Christ one of the most powerful means of more for God and His kingdom is when the Holy Spirit has more and more of us. This is truly where more is better!
Psalms 115:1 (NASB95)
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. (emphasis added)