Friday, April 19, 2013

The Church Must Shrink

But the Lord said to Gideon, There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you. Judges 7:4, NIV

My sister practically worshiped my father. Whatever he said was right to her. So I was surprised to hear her say, "If he says one more time, 'The church must grow,' I'll scream."

His denomination believed in "growth" and was always pushing it. Real Estate was a big concern. My little church was sold and combined with others to make a really big church, even though our little congregation had voted against such a move. A big church was a good church to those who called the shots.

When my niece told them the youth pastor had asked her to spend a weekend with him at his condo, the higher-ups told her they could do nothing about it. Apparently the leaders had a different agenda that did not involve what they considered a side issue.

So I learned that "church growth" meant numbers of people, not individual growth or morality. Now when I hear the word "growth," I think of something a doctor should remove.

A friend told me his mega-church had a Wednesday service with no preaching or prayer, just music. It was their most heavily attended event.

Am I saying we should thin out the flock? Absolutely. At least get rid of the goats.

Vernon McGee was invited as a guest pastor and was waiting outside a door when the pastor asked the people to bow their heads in prayer. McGee was watching through a window as there was prayer. Many people, he said, neither bowed their heads, nor prayed. They whispered to one another, looked around the room, and otherwise ignored the praying.

A man who I had gone to school with, told me he attended church as a good way to sell insurance.

Before a battle, God told Gideon to get rid of many men in his army. Only a small army was left, but they won a victory. I understand churches now accept credit cards. People can "pay with plastic". There once was a time when people paid with their lives.

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