I love God! Being called to serve Him was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me other than getting married and having children. I worked very hard as a member of a church staff. I got tired sometimes, but I never got tired of serving. I'd do anything to help someone personally connect with the Love of Christ and become a member of His church.
Each church staff I’ve been a part of worked very hard to create an engaging weekend service with great music, relevant talks and lots of social opportunities to help people feel like they belonged. Our job was to bring people to faith and help them become mature believers who were fully devoted followers of Christ. There wasn’t much we wouldn’t do to attract and keep more people. In fact, so much energy was put into executing programs to attract and serve the people who came that most of the team was too exhausted to notice whether or not what we were doing was achieving what we set out to do. At the end of the day, did we succeed?
After nearly 2 decades I began to question if all our efforts were actually causing the people who came to church year after year to grow spiritually. Sure, some people don’t come often enough to learn much; but what about the ones who were there every week and didn’t seem any more like Christ this year than last year? And it wasn’t just our church. The dilemma is epidemic in our Christian Community. Had we become so concerned with keeping people from leaving to go find a bigger, better church with better programs and more clubs to join that we focused more on serving them rather than teaching them how to become better servants? I believe, in many cases, the answer is yes.
It doesn’t matter how small, big or popular a church is, if the Christians within it aren’t growing spiritually their lives are no better than they were before they met Jesus. Their confession of faith will be virtually meaningless to an unbelieving world. Current statistics suggest Christians are just as depressed, just as dishonest, get divorced just as much and commit suicide nearly as often as non-Christians. Why? Far too many Christians walk in Spiritual poverty. As we grow spiritually we become less affected BY the world and our affect ON it brings glory to God.
Are all churches the same? Of course not. Are some better than others at leading Christians to grow spiritually? You bet. We believe that there are lots of churches out there who are not just helping people make the decision to accept Christ, but are leading them, by example, to become more like Him. We believe that by visiting 40 Churches in 40 Weeks we can get a very close look at the practices and qualities that are leading to meaningful spiritual growth – not just popularity. How will we recognize them when we find them? That’s not as hard as you might think. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.”
I want Christians to understand that their church is meant to be the launching pad for their life in Christ, not a landing place for people who think they have learned as much as they need to know to get from here to heaven.
As we traveled from Barstow, California to Wilmington, North Carolina, we let pastors and church members share their stories about what has been most effective in helping them grow closer to God and become more and more like His son, Jesus Christ.
Gaining some clarity around 'What Is' so we can more successfully reach 'What Could Be' is a worthwhile endeavor. I hope you'll consider joining the journey and helping me to raise the bar on what it means to be a Christian. I pray God will bless us as we strive to bring honor to His Church and glory to His name!