Freedom From Church Growth Anxiety
Many pastors are smiling on the outside but are deeply confused and perhaps weeping on the inside because they have done everything possible to make their congregations grow in numbers without any corresponding results.
I bring such pastors good news. You may not have a large congregation but you can certainly have a great congregation.
Largeness is not necessarily greatness in God’s Kingdom. Eliab was “bigger” than David hence Samuel thought God must select him for the kingship but God said;
“…Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7.
While men see large congregations as a sign of success, the Lord looks beyond the numbers to the content of their hearts.
God intentionally gives some genuine ministers large congregation; not because they are better than others but because of God’s purpose for which He created such ministries and the minister’s abilities to manage such largeness.
However, a Church can be large in number and great in content in accordance with the plan and purpose of God.
Yet, one may have a small congregation but it is a great congregation. For a start, what makes a great congregation is the presence of Jesus not number of people in attendance.
Jesus said that:
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” (Matt. 18:20).
Once your membership is up to two genuine people who come to seek the Lord, Jesus shows up in your Church meeting. It then becomes an insult to worry about who is not there, when our Lord Jesus is in the assembly. Many are ignorant of this disrespect. Since Jesus is in your assembly, then why worry and feel inferior. If your eyes are open you will see beyond your two members to the host of angels that accompanied Christ to your service. While trusting God for more souls, enjoy the fellowship of the few.
One of John’s disciples came to tell him that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than himself.
Apostle John told him:
“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27).
John knew that God gave Jesus the number of people He was baptizing so he was not envious. He didn’t try to run down Jesus and accuse Him of using crooked means for attracting people to His ministry. Jesus on the other hand told us clearly that the Father gave Him the disciples He had. Hear Him:
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12).
John said; God is the giver of all things and Jesus said; God gave Him all the disciples. After you have labored, rest because you know its God that make all things grow. (1 Cor. 3:7-8). If you envy a man God gave and you begin to speak evil about him or her, you are fighting God who makes all thing grow. Preacherman why is He not making my Church grow numerically? God knows best. The population of Israel is not growing like church but they are God’s chosen.
Servant of God, it is time to enjoy your walk with and work for God. If He hasn’t given you hundred thousand members, they will not come to you. You may have attended numerous seminars; carried out all the seven steps… for Church growth and you have sown seed to ministers with large congregation trusting for their grace to come upon you yet... Sometimes, after fasting over this issue, it looks like the matter is even worse because some leave and you ask, “Why did I fast? Sometimes ago the devil even whispered in your ear that you are under a curse. It is a lie; your curse was broken on the cross if you were saved through the cross.
I started a Church and believed it will be one of the fastest growing Church in Nigeria. I did everything within scriptures to enhance its growth; even walking at night on the street it was located to claim the land and cause all those living there to attend our Church. We fasted, prayed, gave seed – faith offering but nothing really changed. In this desperate situation, our Church location change to a place where there were vacant halls the owners of the property had come to ask if I would mind if another Church came in there I said they could bring all the Churches in the world there. We are one family aiming at the same goal. That Church came there and occupied a ground floor. We were on the first floor in another wing of the building.
One day while waiting at the corridor to my Church hall a young man approached me and said; “Sir, there are two Churches here which one is the best?” I pointed him to the Church of the other pastor. He was closer to my Church door. Though I was eager for Church growth but my Bible tells me to prefer my brothers ahead of me. He began to attend that Church downstairs and one day he got to know I was the pastor of the Church upstairs He came to me and asked why I directed him to another Church while I also had a Church in the same building. I told him that was the only option I had because of the principles of this Kingdom of God. Guess what? He insisted I should not stop him as he began to attend our Church. He was a police officer.
God led me to close down the Church years later. I found out that God’s goal for allowing me start a Church was to know about “Church business” so when He begins to use me to minister to pastors I would know what they feel and be a knowledgeable and faithful minister. But I was praying for a large Church while God was not interested in that for me.
Now I minister to pastors who have millions of members.
Please, never have inferiority complex or let envy take hold of you when you see a man or woman with a large congregation: you are judging God who gives to everyone according to his or her abilities. Love them and bless God for them.
Remember, to one God gave five talents, to another two and to another one, each according to his ability. (Matt. 25:15). They did not cajole their master for the number of talents received. Theirs was to work with, what was given? Imagine if the man with one talent began to persecute the man with five talents wondering how he or she got such a number when they are all equal servants. He would have further diminished in his ministry because of lack of focus on his talents.
Talking about numbers; King Saul had a large congregation of six hundred men and he counted them.
“…and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.” (1 Sam. 13:15b).
He was trusting in the numbers; not in God.
Jonathan saw that though Saul had a “large congregation” and thus walking by sight by counting their heads so he quietly left the crowd. Jonathan left with only his armour bearer trusting God for victory. He had a Church of two members yet he took on a fight which a Church of six hundred members were attempting to fight trusting on their figures and statistics, yet unable.
Jonathan knew that he was of the circumcision- a covenant child and with covenant children; size and numbers don’t take first place. That was why David could face Goliath. You are a covenant child. No matter how small your congregation is, regain your confidence now. By the anointing of God upon my life I declare you free from every spirit of intimidation and discouragement because of the size of your congregation. Jonathan had a revelation that:
“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving whether by many or by few.” (1 Sam. 14:6).
While Saul was counting heads of people. Jonathan and his armour bearer were counting hearts.
Jonathan’s amour bearer counted his heart not his head, when he said:
“I am with you heart and soul.” (1 Sam. 14:7).
I have come to realize that God will give victory either by many or few.
My ministry consists of very few people and God is working with us worldwide.
You may not necessarily increase in numerical number yet, but can accomplish great feat for the Kingdom. Increase is not necessarily in numbers but in accomplishing God’s divine purpose progressively in accordance with His instruction for your ministry. Your Church may be only two hundred or even ten people: remember Jonathan’s story. Build up the hearts of your congregation to have passion for God’s presence and to conform to the image of Christ. Hunger for the spiritual growth of those the Father has given you than numerical growth.
It is God who gives members. The large number you desire may be a problem to what God wants to accomplish in your case. He told Gideon to reduce his army in order for Israel not to say her own strength saved her. Gideon did; yet God said it was still too large. (Judges 7:2-4).
The Lord said I should tell you that with what you have He will establish your ministry, and give you the crown of life if you endure. (James 1:12).
May your heart be at peace over this issue of Church growth or number of internet subscribers.
I am not preaching containment but contentment. While aiming for higher numbers which is right because the scripture says; “…he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:2). But our main goal is to produce lasting fruit. “…I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.” (John 15:16).
God told Israel that they were the least people in number when He chose them. So God does not choose based on size. Pastor whatever your congregational size just pour yourself out to them the major goal that each conform to the image of Jesus, (Rom. 8:29), when you do this you have achieved great success in ministry.
Your growth is not firstly measured in terms of size of congregation but in terms of God’s purpose – teaching those under you to conform to the image of Jesus Christ. This should be your drive. That is the purpose of your calling. You can succeed in this purpose of God with only twenty members while a pastor with a thousand members fails in it.
Now, to Pastors with large congregation you can be large and great but your greatness is not in your size but acknowledging that God gave you that increase and you have effective leaders who share your burden with the people God had to take from the anointing on Moses for the seventy elders that helped him so they will minister just like him. Your main goal is to reproduce yourself in your leaders. Stoop down to receive pastors with lesser congregation with honour and respect. Don’t assess ministers based on their congregational size.