Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Too Small a Thing

I always look with interest when I see college students trying to pull together all the other Christians on their campus for a combined event, usually involving singing songs and listening to a well noted speaker.

I find it interesting because I devoted much of my energy during my time on campus toward that kind of expression. I was looking for a manifestation of God’s awakening and assumed it would take this form. My paradigm expected to measure spiritual activity by how many people who agreed with each other to come to an event.

Boy was I shortsighted.

How limited I was to think that I would be satisfied if I had a certain number of kids showing up to sing and appear to be really into my gig.

Let’s say in the unlikely event that I had every student who professed faith to come to my meeting held in the largest venue on campus. Play along and envision thousands singing the same songs, raising their hands in unity, swooning over the dynamic talk given by the hip communicator. Do you see it? Have you been to something like this?

What does it prove?

Future Pastor, this is what I mean when I say that it’s too small a thing to expect that attendance means anything in your quest for seeing real awakening and the ushering in of the Church of the Future. We default to this kind of thinking because it is easy to measure for reports and newsletters. Financial supporters and Boards of Directors feel better about their organization when they see lots of people showing up, but don’t be seduced by this. Look for real, authentic change. You will know it when you see it.

Position yourself to be free from numerical expectation put on you by superiors who don’t get it. Wait and watch for the evidence of what genuine awakening really means; men and women who are awake, not just at your meeting. Greet those who look groggy from the slumber of disbelief. Look for those opening their eyes to restored relationships and how to love well. These kinds of people may or may not show up at your meeting, but they will change their world.

1 comment:

julieunplugged said...

You know, last week in church, my pastor actually told his congregation not to tithe (they are in the middle of a fund raising program for a potential new building, even) if they don't have the money.

He went on to say that in his 48 years of church, he has never seen that tithing leads to wealth. He's seen wise investing, holding a good job, making smart financial decisions lead to wealth and that in those conditions, tithing and giving are a natural part of sharing.

He said all of this and then told the church that getting out of personal debt was more important than their building program and that they wouldn't actually purchase a new building if the church couldn't support it, even though the church had grown in numbers.

I have never heard such an honest, nurturing sermon about church growth, attendance, tithing or financial responsibility in my life.

I attend a black church in downtown Cincinnati.

Nurturing the flock as they actually are - what a concept. Loved this post.