The Great Commandment and the Great Commission
Recently we had a financial mtg after services to discuss the church repairs. Like me, as things get older, they need more frequent fixin! I was pleased with the discussion and that there was give and take and eventually a plan was arrived at.
But I also felt that the fixed amount of funds on hand were seen as our limit, but there must be a perspective that God can supply all of what we need. Dont get me wrong, Stewardship is always important in the Body of Christ. but we also need to remember this is His work, His cattle, His provision, His Church. His People are asked to support the work as well, and to trust God for the provision. If God is lifted up and glorified in it, growth will happen and growth covers a multitude of problems and sometimes even creates others, which often are "good problems" like space needs.
We are called to join Him where He is at work according to Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. Lisa and I believe God called us here and confirmed it for a purpose. Our purpose revealed to us by the Lord is to " Love, Lead, and Feed". And we will do that to the best of our ability as long as the Lord tells us to remain. I am to preach the Truth and preach the Good News, which I do every week as the Holy Spirit leads. We are to look out for those put under our care in many ways. We are to encourage and lift the burdens where ever we can.
But did you know that 70% of Pastors are frequently depressed, 78% have few friends.7000 churches close each year for various reasons, but among the top is the inability to find a pastor. 1500 quit their churches each month. Pastors seldom are invited to the homes of the people they care for. The Shepherd needs the support and encouragement of the flock. He also needs the Flock to help the church grow as well. He can preach mightily to the same group weekly and if no one takes the initiative to spread the word, the church still will stagnate.Did you also know that Shepherds dont give birth, sheep do?
I invite every time I meet a new person. It happened today as someone came by looking very distraught. I helped as much as I could, and then invited them. I got a "Sundays are hard days" reply but I said "open invitation whenever, we'd love to see you".
I have to ask, have you intentionally taken the risk and invited someone new to church? That brings me full circle back to the opening paragraph. If more people come and hear Christ preached, and hear answers that the world does not have, there will be growth in many areas of the church including our finances. Someone at the meeting said we should pray and ask God to bless! Absolutely True, and then send a text or email or call to invite someone to bless them.
In newer churches , 2/3 to 3/4 attend because the people are excited and invite. When I was in South Carolina I attended my daughters Church, Newspring. Powerful, growing, outreaching. I even got a shirt that said on the back, " I love my church"!
Churches often have two representative groups " Pioneers and Homesteaders". Pioneers look back, remember former pastors and the old days, and old ways. Without change Churches that are largely made up of this group, die out. Homesteaders are newer folks looking to find their place in the church and in the ministries of the Church and they are looking forward to growing.
Churches that grow have some distinctive traits. Their members are not just friendly, they become friends with newer folks and solidify the Body of Christ. Hospitality is extended; eating meals in each other's homes is a huge factor in growing churches. Growing churches also host what are called "seeker events".Picnics, concerts, bbq's, you name it, to let the newcomer know that being part of a body of believers can be fun and uplifting. Another growth factor is Evangelism, which is often misunderstood by churches, but it is simple. It is people sharing hope, sharing the truth of what Jesus has done in their lives. It's listening and caring. It's being love to someone who maybe doesnt deserve it.
We must each have the Great Commandment in our lives, so to we need to add the Great Commission to our lives; and in truth it should naturally flow from our love for the Lord.
Love the Lord, Love your neighbor( someone near you wherever you are) and go and tell them that there is love and forgiveness available in Christ and that you "love your church" too! Get a t shirt if you want :)