It’s Pretty Much Impossible.
There’s no doubt the majority of churches have a desire for growth. And as new attendees walk through the door, they’re excited to have them! But when they walk out the door, never to return, eventually someone’s going to ask, “Why?”
That ‘why’ always leads to a conversation about change. Which is a great first step. Unfortunately, too often we spend far more time talking about change than actually making changes.
At some point, we need to be honest with each other about where we’re at. At some point, a line has to be drawn, and a decision has to be made.
The difficult truth is that change has been associated with growth since the Book of Acts. It’s continued throughout church history. And all signs are pointing to change being inevitable for the survival of the church.
Change Often Leads To Growth
Church and ministry leaders need to champion the change process in order to keep our churches moving forward with Gospel focus.
This concept stems from the final conversation in Carey Nieuwhof’s book, Lasting Impact: “What Are We Actually Willing To Change?” As I’ve reflected on Carey’s seventh conversation, the Apostle Paul has come to mind again.
Specifically the last passage in Acts 28:
“When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement:
‘The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.’” (Acts 28:23-31)
1. Tell The Truth
- Lasting Impact, Ch. 7, “What To Do When People Want A Church To Grow…But Not Change” principle 1 of 6.
Paul spends all day, morning ’til evening, pleading with these Jewish leaders to receive Jesus Christ. He uses every resource they might accept, from the Law of Moses to the Prophetic Writings, that their system, has ended.
As a church, we need to be honest with each other about our programs and ministry. If they’re not producing fruit, they’re not worth the investment. Too often, we leave ministries on life support instead of facing the truth.
As individuals, we need to honest with people about the Gospel. The temptation is to lean toward what many call ‘relational evangelism‘ where we never actually get to the difficult truths of the Gospel. That Jesus truly is the only way. That there are no other options.
We have to tell the whole truth, for the sake of the Gospel.
2. Draw A Line & Call It
At some point, after a long day of conversation, Paul had bring the discussion to a close. He does so, with a hard piece of Scripture by the famous prophet, Isaiah. Basically, he calls them blind, deaf and dumb; then highlights the Kingdom will now go to the Gentiles.
This is a crucial moment for a church. As we’ve already mentioned, churches can often get to the truth stage where a change is being discussed. But actually drawing the line, making the call and fulfilling the discussed change; that’s crippling for many churches.
This is also a difficult moment for us as individuals. Discussing the Gospel as a faith idea of philosophical thought can lead to lots of great conversations with unbelievers. But at some point, we need to actually invite them to accept Jesus.
We have to draw a line and call it, for the sake of the Gospel.
Get your copy of Lasting Impact by Carey Nieuwhof today. Start the change journey toward growth in your church.
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Do you think change and church growth are connected? Why or why not?