After attaining 3 degrees, reading countless books, and hearing from lots of “experts”, I feel fairly acquainted with church growth methods. I had heard the “experts” fill in the blank of this verse, “Upon this _________, I will build My Church.” The answers have been the following:
- Hot-looking, awesome band
- Skinny jeans wearing worship leader
- Muscular pastor
- Entertaining kids and student ministries
- Awesome hangout for hot young singles to hook up and hear the gospel
The list is by no means exhaustive. I have also heard that churches with pastors who wear suits, use pipe organs, have choirs, and follow traditional scheduling cannot grow. My question to you is this: Does Church growth happen because of manmade methods or because of a move of God?
From my experience, church growth happens because Jesus builds HIS church. I have tried methods and programs. I did what the largest churches in America have done. My success rate was pitiful. Some of you “experts” may be saying, “Well, Matthew, you didn’t do it right.” I have learned that whatever you use to bait them is what you have to use to keep them. If my worship team women look like they’re sunbathing on the beach when they are on stage, I would bet every man with blood running through his veins would not miss a Sunday. I’m not saying that all manmade methods are mad, but I am saying that none are 100% effective and some even compromise biblical principle. While I have enjoyed all that a larger church has to offer, I do not want to compromise spiritual growth in order to draw a crowd.
I genuinely want to experience a move of God where people are giving their lives to Christ, being baptized, using their gifts, and leading others to Christ. I want to see a move of God where people are on fire about what God is teaching them to the point that they cannot help but tell others. God produces that. I do my part, but God gives the increase.
Several years ago, I was choir director in a church that had 7 directors in 7 years. I was the seventh. The choir was down to 20 people when I inherited it. I had zeal with little knowledge, but I wanted to see the choir experience a revival. During the time I was there, several returned to the choir and a spirit of unity had been restored. God did that! I went into my first full time music ministry expecting the same thing, but I experienced an immediate flop. The choir would experience growth beginning in August and drop off in January. During the third year, there was no growth. It stayed that way for 3 years. I consulted megachurch worship leaders and did everything I was told. Nothing happened. Then one day, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Psalm 127:1 – “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” I threw up my hands and said, “Lord, I give up. You have to build this choir because I can’t.” Within a few weeks, 18 people joined the choir and stayed until I left.
Some of you have read this story before. For those who have forgotten or have not read it, I hope it is confirmation that the LORD builds HIS church. We have responsibilities, but He does the work. So, do not give up. God will grow His church in due time. Wait on Him and be obedient. God blesses that! Don’t settle for a crowd when you can experience a move of God!