Here are three essentials for breaking through the barriers to church growth.
1. You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth.
2. You must change the primary role of the pastor from minister to leader.
3. You must organize around the gifts of your people.
We should avoid preachy self-righteousness because it communicates something opposite to the gospel.
Preachy self-righteousness says: "If you perform well (morally or spiritually), God will accept you." But the gospel says, "God already accepts you because Jesus performed perfectly on your behalf."
There's a hell of difference between the two. The gospel sets us free from performance and releases us into the arms of grace. Self-wrought performance is a death sentence, but the obedience of Christ on our behalf is eternal life.
What people need to hear is grace, audacious, seems-too-good-to-be-true-but-so-true-it's-good grace.
Grace is God working his way down to us so that we don't have to work our way up to him. He comes down to us in Jesus. We need to make Jesus the stumbling block, not preachy self-righteousness or spiritual performance.
In this morass of rights claims and counterclaims, British Christians may be forgiven for seeing a larger assault on their values and traditions. Yet lost in the country's increasingly awkward debates over religious versus sexual freedoms, and the competing sensibilities of this or that protected group, is an even more puzzling discrepancy over when any private business is allowed to set potentially discriminatory standards. So far the U.K. has respected some such rights in relation to a business's employees, but not its customers.
Even that latitude may soon narrow, as Prime Minister David Cameron's government attempts damage control among its Christian supporters over a case involving a British Airways flight attendant wearing a cross. A Downing Street spokesman this week suggested that if the European court finds against Ms. Eweida, the government may look into new protections for religious workers against private standards such as dress codes.
That might satisfy devout Britons for a while, as would a new carve-out for religious business owners such as the Bulls--at least until the next time anyone's convictions, mores, practices or habits conflict with anyone else's in the country. Meanwhile, these small victories will only further muddle companies' freedoms to dispose of their resources as they see fit--regardless of faith, sexual orientation, or ever-changing estimations of political expedience.