Ministry can be discouraging. At times preaching colleagues at other churches would say to me from envy, I wish I could preach for a church that wanted to grow.
A couple of things confused me regarding such a statement. When the comments were made, I was just beginning at MD. Such a location wasn't as easy as the commentors assumed. Too, I pondered that surely their congregations did want to grow.
I'm not naive. I know somewhat their intent when saying such. Yet truth be known, all churches want to grow. Basically, none of us know how to go about it. We think by organizationally connecting the right dots increase is bound to happen. May be.
Here's how I see it. From front to back and top to bottom we are clueless. Count on it. From Richland Hills' success to Po Dunks' misery we are all fundamentally the same; if God doesn't cause it and do it, it ain't gonna happen.
I should know. I tried hundreds of ideas and concepts. I read books and attended seminars. I went to Christian and secular meetings trying to find the secrets to this and the keys to that. I remained stranded...as well as frustrated.
I spent about 18 years at Memorial wishing I was somebody else and wishing Memorial was like some other church. I spent about five years wondering why we existed as a church or if we should divvy up the members and move off into other congregations.
When I reached the conclusion I was clueless and God was not, things began to dramatically change. The church wanted to grow; it hadn't known how. As one of her leaders I was too self-conscious, too judgmental, and too brash to contribute. This had to go....and it didn't/wouldn't go without a fight within myself for I was also highly defensive.
Yet by the grace of God it seemed cluelessness was a valuable admissional tool. Once He heard me confess it there seemed to be a snow-balling effect where others in leadership reached a similar personal conclusion simultaneously.
All churches want to grow. Many are clueless as to how this could be. A secret for others may be what is now the theme of our elders as well as the staff. It is not Lead, follow, or get out of the way...as we once paraded. No. Our goal now is more fine-tuned. We now know for the church to grow we as leaders must get out of the way.