There’s something I’ve noticed about my church planting friends. They work hard. They are constantly knocking on doors, hosting outreach events in their community, and teaching people the Bible wherever they go. Sometimes I get tired just reading their Facebook posts.
There’s something I’ve noticed about my friends who pastor established churches. They work hard. They are constantly visiting someone in the hospital, attending a committee meeting, and preparing for Bible study. I can relate to the busyness of ministry.
Look. I’m not trying to knock established churches. I’m not trying to knock established church pastors. I pastor an established church. I’m also not trying to say that established churches don’t reach out or that church planters don’t have meetings to attend.
But I am saying that in general terms my church planting friends seem to be more focused on reaching people, while my established church friends seem to be more focused on ministering to the saints. I’m not pointing fingers here. I’m looking in the mirror.
I don’t know all of the reasons for this. But I think I know at least one reason. My church planting friends don’t have a choice. If they do not reach people with the gospel, they won’t have a church. Their funding will dry up. And their church planting efforts will be deemed a failure.
But what happens if my church doesn’t reach people with the gospel? Sure, it will eventually die. You can’t go on forever without bringing in new people. But that death will probably be very slow. I will continue to receive a paycheck. My congregation will continue to feel loved as long as I keep visiting them when they’re sick and preaching decent sermons each week. And one day I can use my Guidestone 403b to retire and fade off into the sunset.
But is that really what this is all about? Am I content to just keep plugging along and one day fade off into the sunset?
I started off with some very broad generalizations. Perhaps my generalizations are unfair. Obviously a pastor must shepherd the flock of God that has been entrusted to him. I don’t mean to implicate my established church friends and suggest that they are not reaching people with the gospel. I don’t know their hearts. But I do know mine. And I know that whatever sense of urgency in evangelism I may be able to conjure up from time to time often comes more from a desire to be successful and see my church grow than it does from a genuine desire to see lives transformed by the gospel.
That’s not what I see in the early church. I’m preaching through Acts right now, and I continue to find myself amazed each week at the urgency of the first Christians as they took the gospel from Jerusalem into all Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth. Our established churches must regain that same urgency.
Maybe this isn’t what you expected to read this morning as you fired up your computer and typed sbcvoices.com into the search bar. Maybe you were looking for the latest denominational squabbling. But would you just pause for a moment? Take a minute to search your heart. Why do you do what you do? Ask God to give you a renewed passion for souls. Ask God to send revival to your heart. May it then spread throughout your church and community. And may God breathe new life into our established churches for His glory among the nations.