Sunday, June 29, 2014

Can Free Will Baptist Churches Grow? p. 1

As a denomination, Free Will Baptists are blessed with several growing congregations.  If you were to study those churches, it would be difficult to determine why some are growing and others are not.  Not all growing churches are blessed with a great location, superior facilities, or an uber-talented staff.  Some are traditional.  Most are VERY conservative. Why do SOME grow and others do not??

1.  Some Free Will Baptist Churches will never grow because they are unwilling to do what is necessary to grow.  Growth takes work.  It requires vision and strategy.  But more than anything, it requires a congregation to take ownership of the calling of God upon His people to evangelize.  Most of our churches are convinced that they are "one home-run-hire away" from growth - "one building away" - "one program away" from catching aflame.  They have no idea that growth comes at great personal cost.  A church must WANT to grow enough to get involved in the process.  As in Nehemiah's day, the work was accomplished in record time because "the people had a mind to work." (Nehemiah 4:6)

2.  Some Free Will Baptist Churches will never grow because they are spiritually withered and have no desire to grow.  It would surprise us to know just how many of our churches have absolutely no desire to be anything other than what they are.  In fact, a lack of growth has become a spiritual badge of honor they flash whenever someone questions their health and lack of fruitfulness. They unfairly characterize growing churches as 'liberal' or 'modern' and say 'bless God WE are still true!'  How on earth can we think God is EVER happy with mediocrity or lukewarmness?  What spiritual gymnastics must we perform to convince ourselves that God isn't interested in growth?  Why do we automatically conclude that growth requires compromise or worldliness?  Saying "We are too conservative to grow" is a cop-out.

3.  Some Free Will Baptist Churches will never grow because they are staffed by men more interested in personal comfort and job security than they are dying to self and hard work.  It's always easier to blame everyone else for our lack of growth - to rationalize "they don't pay me enough..." or "if they only showed a little more respect..."  Face it fellas, while some of us don't know HOW to grow, most of us don't want to be troubled with additional work.  As long as we can safely point to enough churches that aren't growing, we can justify our own poor performance.  It is hypocritical for us to wax eloquently on "why YOU PEOPLE need to invite your friends!" all the while we do very little personal evangelism of our own.  Preaching the Gospel should not be the extent of your evangelistic efforts.

Churches that grow are intentional.  They have an articulated strategy for growth.  They find gifted and faithful people to pull into their leadership circle.  They focus on doing two or three things with excellence instead of always hitching their wagon to the latest fad or striving to be like BIG COMMUNITY FELLOWSHIP down the street.  Growing churches focus on the task instead of obstacles... they speak positively... pray specifically... work systematically.

Can Free Will Baptist churches grow?  To borrow a worn-out campaign-slogan - YES WE CAN!