- Jim Townsley
- Jun 2, 2014
There is an excitement that permeates every aspect of starting a new church. It is a new adventure with the hope that it will be an enjoyable experience filled with new friends, new opportunities, and perhaps a new direction in life. New members will find opportunities of service and accept various leadership roles. Nursery workers, ushers, greeters, and musicians will soon find their niche or gift to serve God. The faithful members of the church will soon begin to grow and develop a camaraderie within the new church family. Finding a place of belonging is an important role of the new church. However, the church can easily become internal and lose its main purpose of reaching the lost and fulfilling the great commission.
New believers naturally have a burden to reach their family and friends and they may initially reach some of them. But, eventually new members will exhaust all their contacts from their family and old friends and these folks will make a decision to respond to the gospel or reject it. Sometimes family members will even disown a new convert accusing them of joining a cult and betraying their family tradition. This leaves the new believer with few contacts to reach with the gospel. In addition, the newness and excitement of the new church can fade so that the end result can be "Us four and no more." Often the church family develops closer relationships to one another than one's own blood brother or sister but they may lose their worldwide vision of reaching the lost. It is good to develop godly friends within the church, yet it is a danger to be satisfied with status quo. The church planter must be keenly aware of this development and not allow himself to be content to minister to these isolated folks.
Members may indicate they want the church to grow and their desire is to reach the lost, but in reality they may be content with their circle of friends. They may be willing to go soul-winning and they may have people saved, but when these new converts attend church they become a threat to the clique that has developed. Conveying a Biblical burden for lost souls must continually be nurtured. The pastor must realize he has a life-long job of developing in his church a spiritual concern for the lost. The real test comes when someone sits in the usual seat of a long time member. As much as they should be happy often they are not.
With new members comes new problems. The Bible states that, " Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." - Proverbs 14:4. In other words, where there are people there are problems and sometimes it can get dirty. But the ministry is about people and with people comes the necessity of solving problems.
Developing a spiritually minded church is no easy task. Spirit filled messages, fervent prayer, and personal discipleship are all necessary ingredients in developing a godly congregation. The church planter must resist trying to build the church through compromise. When a man compromises God's standards he forfeits God's clear message. A greater attendance may initially be achieved, but the end result will be a weakened church.
Also the pastor must reject the status quo mentality of the church. I have personally observed good men cater to the few while ignoring the masses of unreached souls. The man of God must keep his vision of reaching his community for Christ. People are fickle and catering to a few will eventually be met with disappointment.
A vibrant church does not develop by accident. The preacher is the leader and it is his role to lead the church and not allow it to become stale. Don't allow your church to develop the mentality of, "Us four and no more."