Church Growth
Feeding the Flock In a Count-the-Sheep Culture
Is it possible to find success in ministry outside the church growth numbers? It depends who gets the credit.

Not every church is called to formally plant other churches. Their main job is to feed the flock – just like Jesus told Peter to do. That is success. And it is truly immeasurable – in both senses of that word.

Success That’s Not Ours

There’s an old saying that goes, “there’s no limit to what a person can do if they don’t care who gets the credit.”

Close, but not quite true.

Certainly it would be great if we could all remove our egos from the equation, which is what the quote is all about. But more accurately, and more biblically, there is one way in which it matters who gets the credit.

We need to be sure all the credit goes to Jesus.

One more time I refer you to the most important church growth verse in the Bible. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18). Again, there are two key words in that quote. “I” and “my”.

It’s Christ’s church, not ours, so he gets the credit for building it.

As we’ve already talked about, these two words tell us it’s Christ’s church, not ours, so he gets the credit for building it.

When Jesus gets the credit, I should be just as thrilled when my efforts put someone into a healthy church down the street or around the world as I am when they come to the church I’m pastoring.

That’s what a lot of small churches have as their mission. They’re senders, not attracters. They may not be growing numerically in their church building and may never formally plant another church body, but the people who are eating of their fruit are growing personally and dropping seeds everywhere they go.

Again, that doesn’t give us numbers for our annual church reports, so no one may see the results of that work except God. But God does. That should be enough.

When each of my children got old enough to start working, I gave all three the same advice as they went nervously to their first day on the job. I told them to approach every day with three rules in mind.

  • First, show up ready to work on time or early.
  • Second, give it all you’ve got when you’re there.
  • Third, don’t take anything that’s not yours when you leave.

If you do that, I told them, you’ll always be a desirable employee.

Those are good rules to apply to pastoring.

  • First, let’s show up ready to go, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for the job we’ve got, instead of dreaming about the job we wish we had.
  • Second, let’s apply everything we’ve got to doing the best we can, then with God’s help, better things will happen than we’re actually capable of.
  • Third, at the end of the day, don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to us. Leave all the blame in the garbage can, and give all the glory to God.

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