I’ve written on this in the past but after reading Michael Fletcher’s “Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth” I discovered one more area in which our church hasn’t changed. And according to Fletcher, if we’re going to break through the 200 ceiling, we’ll need to change our church culture’s understanding on this important issue.
Here’s how he puts it:
Small churches, without realizing it, intuitively resist growth at some point since continued growth threatens the closeness they so enjoy. After a certain number of relationships, a person just doesn’t have room for more. Folks cannot remember everyone’s name but somehow feel they should. Not knowing everyone, and the underlying guilt that says we should, produces an awkwardness that actually pushes others away. Small churches fear that growing might destroy the family they have become (55).
For a church to break through the 100/200 barrier…The people must accept the fact that they will not be able to know everyone in the church. This does not mean they must give up a sense of family, but it does mean that they will have to learn to experience it in other ways. Properly done, this barrier can be broken without destroying the great fellowship members have been enjoying. New circles of fellowship must be developed, and even multiplied, to prompt continued growth (57).
What do you think? Is Fletcher right or wrong? Why is it important for a local church to strive for continued growth?
Many times Paul asked the churches of his time to pray for him (see Ephesians 6:18-19; Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Why? Why must we ask someone to pray for us or with us? Does not God hear the prayers of each one of his children?
You should want others to pray for you for at least 2 reasons:
- The prayers of others strengthen your prayer times.
- Others see factors you may fail to see.
Unified prayer is more powerful than individual prayer. Praying together demonstrates that we are God’s people.
Martin Luther once wrote that living the Christian life is like a drunk riding a horse. We keep falling off one side or the other, either into legalism, which chokes the freedom to love by adding unbiblical “obligations” to the Christian life, or into license, which perverts freedom into guilt-free selfishness and a promiscuity to do “what ever.”
True freedom develops in fierce battle between these two polars. Romans 2:11 (Msg), “Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” Gospel freedom means to neither indulge our whims nor keep rules. Whim-indulgers and rule-keepers are slaves to the corruption within them that demands a satisfaction that Jesus will not provide for us in this life.
God does not free us from sin to keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving. But God does want us to live in the freedom of knowing that He will keep on forgiving when we keep on sinning. Therefore we should focus more on LOVING OTHERS than resisting temptation. So make every effort to love more, not to sin less. By doing that we’ll find that we’re sinning less.
If we praise God on the mountain top but refuse to praise Him in the valley then we’re not praising God at all. Instead, we’re praising our feelings.
Our commitment to God is a matter of the will, not of feelings. God has not changed! His glory, majesty, and His eternal purpose are not dimmed or tainted by the events of this life.
What Jesus began through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, He now continues through what the Holy Spirit birthed at Pentecost: the Church. From then until Jesus returns to take over the Earth, every member of the Church is empowered to tell the full message of their new life in Christ.
We are not alive in this world to experience God or enjoy the blessings of a comfortable life. If that were God’s purpose, He’d have brought us into His presence in heaven the moment we were forgiven and adopted into His family.
Our purpose until we die is to reveal a new attitude toward suffering and a new agenda in prayer that flows out of our new purpose in life that makes sense only if we claim our new hope of resurrection.
When the first Christ-followers faced opposition, they prayed, not for protection from suffering but for boldness in testifying. They were so devoted to their new purpose, so confident in their new hope, so dependent on their new power, and so willing to suffer in their new mission that they became a holy community, set apart to live their passion to know God and to invite others into that relationship.
Today people love to join entertaining churches. In the early church, no one dared join their fellowship without embracing what it means to radically follow Jesus.
I love to hate my dog, Moxie, a Siberian Husky. She is stubborn and doesn’t listen very well. BUT…BUT…BUT one thing I can always say about her is how gentle she has been with our children, even when they were toddlers. She was a lot like the Husky in this video…