As I have been doing, here is a synopsis of chapter two of the book, “Hurdling the Barriers” – to church health and growth.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)
When my grandson was five years old, I decided to take him out on the boat fishing in one of the saltwater rivers in the Savannah Georgia area. Before we went out, he wanted to learn how to cast with the rod and reel. So, I took the rod and reel and attached a small weight to the line. I took him out into the front yard and attempted to instruct him. Before I could get the words, “Let me show you,” out of my mouth, he interrupted me saying, “I can do it myself, five-year olds can do anything!” So, I said, “Okay. Show me.” Well he took the rod hauled back and flung it forward. The only problem was that he did not know to open the bail on the spinning reel. The weight swung around in a circle and tangled up a bit around the rod tip. After that I said, “Now do you want me to show you?” Of course, the answer was “Yes Pa-Pa.” The problem here was one of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency can be a huge barrier to the health of the local church. However, I am not talking about getting help from other people in this hurdle. I am speaking of the church that depends on human endeavors rather than the Lord who makes all things possible.
The problem of self-sufficiency is connected to the issue of self-glorification by pride. It is a subtle infiltrator of churches and is characterized by these phrases. “I did” and “We did.” . . . The problem exists when we trust in programs and ideas contrived by men rather than the Lord who builds the church. . . . It truly is a faith issue, meaning to know that God exists and to trust Him rather than ourselves. . . . One of the key indicators that this barrier is in place is the lack of desperately dependent prayer, by leaders, parishioners and by the church corporately. . . . One of the most difficult things I had to do as a pastor was to maintain a consistent gathering of parishioners participating in fervent and effectual prayer.
Many pastors are frustrated because they are trying everything to cause numerical growth, but nothing seems to work. They are also constantly being bombarded with subliminal messages that they are not doing enough or the right programs because their congregations are either plateaued or declining. Perhaps the problem is exactly that, they are doing it. At some point faith must enter the picture. If it does not, the church is not healthy.
In chapter two, I discuss this problem in greater depth with suggestions for churches and parishioners. The target date to finish the work is in the Spring.