There’s a dividing line that’s making it’s way into the American Church. A line that will bring sharp distinction between nominal Christians (Christians in name only) and authentic followers of Jesus.
This line in the sand will also separate churches between ones that merely build crowds and those that focus on building armies. By God’s grace and much grieving, I’ve been on a journey of reconstructing my view of ministry and how we view success. I first wrote about it here in my open resignation letter.
For years my focus was on building a crowd for Christ. I mean, didn’t crowds follow Jesus? Wasn’t Jesus the master crowd builder? But, upon closer inspection of scripture we find that Jesus could take or leave the crowds. Besides, they came and went based on the fickleness of their emotions and agendas.
No, Jesus was slowly and methodically building an army for His kingdom.
Crowds are built in a moment, armies are built over time.
Crowds come to consume, armies comes to serve.
Crowds leave after the show, armies stand fast waiting for orders.
For me, gut wrenching turmoil set in when I realized the fallacy of crowd building in the church. Years of trying to get “crowds” to take the next steps of growth proved as challenging as trying to hold on to water. Unending frustration would set in as people came and went looking for the next show time.
This made me realize that the fault wasn’t solely on the congregation. The church cannot hope to build an army when all their leaders hope for is a crowd. I’ve experienced both and I can tell you there’s no contest, I’ll take an army every time.
Two Take Away Truths
Deeper commitment will always trump numbers alone. Fact: Many that call themselves Christians are not committed to a/their local church family. Once after a crowd walked away from Jesus because they felt he asked too much, he looked to his twelve disciples and said, “Will you leave too?” They stayed; and changed the world. Keep investing, training, and growing the army that’s committed to Christ and his mission.
Pastors must unhitch their egos from Sunday numbers. Swallowing this statement is like trying to swallow razor blades because it’s that relevant to me. When numbers are down or up we must ask the painful question, Am I upset because many are missing out on being ministered to or because of how it reflects on me? Jesus’ identity wasn’t found in the latest crowd size; He was committed to the mission.
Let the crowds come and go. Let’s build an army together.