CHURCH GROWTH consultancy is big business, but I think there’s a gap in the market waiting to be filled. My idea is a bit less complicated than many of the usual strategies suggested for church growth, which often involve congregational and community surveys, spiritual gift tests, and discussions about branding.
I call it the Revelation Review: just get a bunch of your church people together. Then, ask them to imagine what Jesus would write if there were an eighth letter to the churches, in the book of Revelation, chapters 2-3. And, imagine it was addressed to your congregation. Chances are, He’d have some shortcomings to point out.
After all, He had words of admonishment for each of the churches to whom He spoke in that last book in the Bible.
The Ephesians got a high five for holding fast to the faith, but He lamented that they’d lost their first love. Tender up!
He noted the tough times the Smyrnans had endured, but cautioned them against being fearful of what was to come. Toughen up!
Those in Pergamum He commended for standing firm, but He rebuked them for embracing some false teachings. Wise up!
The Thyratirans earned praise for their love and service, but He chided them for cultural compromise. Stand up!
Those in Sardis were warned that they may look good from the outside, but as far as He was concerned they were on life support. Wake up!
The Philadelphians had endured much, He acknowledged. But, He said, they were in danger of falling at the last hurdle if they were not careful. Look up!
And as for the Laodiceans, they were measuring success by the wrong yardstick and were about to get a rude awakening, He said. Warm up!
Actually, you probably won’t get this kind of church growth guidance from a committee or a consultant, but from a prayer group or a prophet. Revelation and its salutary seven letters to the churches in Asia came as the apostle John spent time in prayer.
Jesus’ words weren’t to condemn but to challenge, not to call out but to call up. Yet He told no less than three of the churches that He had a thing or two against them.
Now that’s a pretty sobering way to think about change at your church. Not just that maybe we could do some things better, but that the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the Universe actually has something against us!
Anyone curious enough to ask Him?
Photo by Clive Varley on Foter.com/CC BY