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Pastor's Study > People in the Pews

23 Jan 2013


During our travels to various churches and in discussions with pastors, it seems that a common thread of perceived need on the hearts of many pastors is one of more people, preferably powerful people, in the pews.    Sometimes this felt need has been communicated in very straightforward terms and other times it seems to be of a more subtle substance lying just below the surface of conscious communication.

A couple of days ago it seemed that the Lord was saying:  “Churches do not need people, rather people need churches”     This led to an investigation of how we approach this matter.   The perspectives we hold in our hearts concerning people are absolutely critical to the blessing of God upon our ministries.

For if we believe our church simply needs more people, the inevitable outgrowth of this perception is a subtle shift toward a focus on and an accommodation of people.    If we fall into the trap of accommodating people we are at the same time inevitably moved away from a principal dependence on the power of God.   This is not without biblical evidence.   Asa a great king of Judah, late in his reign, changed his focus from dependence on God to a focus on getting help from powerful people.

2 Chronicles 16:1-6 (ASV)
1 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of Jehovah and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
3 There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
4 And Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store-cities of Naphtali.
5 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building Ramah, and let his work cease.
6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.

Up to this point Asa had been one of the outstanding Kings of Judah.    Remember how Asa sought the power of God in an earlier conflict?

2 Chronicles 14:9-13 (ASV)
9 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an army of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and he came unto Mareshah.
10 Then Asa went out to meet him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
11 And Asa cried unto Jehovah his God, and said, Jehovah, there is none besides thee to help, between the mighty and him that hath no strength: help us, O Jehovah our God; for we rely on thee, and in thy name are we come against this multitude. O Jehovah, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
12 So Jehovah smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
13 And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and there fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before Jehovah, and before his host; and they carried away very much booty.


Is it possible to begin with more people as our goal, and actually get more people while doing little to nothing toward building God’s kingdom and bringing Him glory?   Is it possible to have more people in the pews and simultaneously have less impact for Christ in our community?

Asa’s dependence on the power of men, as you will remember, did not work out well.   When our focus is upon men and what men can do we fall far short of the plan of God for our ministry.

2 Chronicles 16:7-10 (ASV)
7 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and hast not relied on Jehovah thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand.
8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge host, with chariots and horsemen exceeding many? yet, because thou didst rely on Jehovah, he delivered them into thy hand.
9 For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

Our churches do not need people, people need our churches.    Lost people need our churches, and saved people need our churches, if they encounter therein the presence and power of God.   If we seek God and His presence and His power He will be responsible for bringing precisely the people needed.   If our focus is primarily filling the pews with people, we probably will be doing this work predominantly on our own.

Matthew 16:18 (NASB95)
18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. ( emphasis added)

He is able who has called you and He will also do it.   Depend on Him.