This past Sunday was pretty special for Grace Hills Church. After four years of being a portable church plant meeting in two local movie theaters, we moved into our newly renovated space in Rogers, Arkansas. We called it a “soft launch” and reserved the Grand Opening for this coming Sunday – our fourth anniversary since launching pulicly.
Sometimes, things change, such as the location where we gather for worship. But some things never change, like the mission and message of the church. In this message delivered on our inaugural Sunday in our new space, I’m casting a vision for the future and challenging us to throw a party for sinners like us.
We like change that directly benefits us – a job promotion, a new home, marrying our dream mate, etc. But we’re terrified of change that threatens our sense of stability, security, or significance. Having been a Pastor for eighteen years now, I’ve seen my share of missed opportunities for new, fresh growth resulting from the fear of taking risks that might cost our comfort.
Remember the Once-ler? From The Lorax by Dr. Seuss? He was a fairly normal guy who wanted to build a big business at the expense of the environment, so he kept “biggering and biggering” until all the trees were gone, the wildlife had vacated the landscape, and his business crashed. The little children’s book seems to leave us with the impression that biggering is bad. But I’m not convinced that should be the big lesson.
I love small churches. I love medium-sized churches. And I love large churches and “megachurches” (typically defined as an evangelical congregation with 2,000 or more weekend service attenders). I also agree with a principle shared by Bailey Smith who once said, “There are no large churches. All churches are small, some are just smaller than others when compared to the surrounding lost population.”
How is it that some people can be born again, faithful church members for many decades and act so immaturely under pressure or in conflict while others who have been believers such a short time seem to reflect Christ so well? It’s because spiritual maturity isn’t defined chronologically. It doesn’t matter so much how long you’ve been a Christian. It matters whether you’ve been growing while a Christian.
I have taken lessons in piano, guitar, trumpet, and karate. Does this make me a master of all of these abilities? No! Because I stopped each one after only a few months. I’m a master of starting things! God, however, is the Master of finishing.
It’s inevitable. Every single time we publish an article on pastors.com designed to help Pastors lead their churches to grow, people react with defensiveness and pseudo-spiritual comments. Everyone seems quick to point out that “it’s not about numbers,” “bigger doesn’t mean better,” and “my small church matters just as much as your big church.”
If Proverbs could have a 32nd chapter of nuggets of wisdom, David Chrzan would write it. In the five years or so that I’ve known and worked with David, he’s repetitively dropped advice that has shaped my own philosophy of leadership. For example, in a recent conversation David said, “You can have growth or you can have control. And you have to decide how much of each you want.”
Movement is life.
I recently watched the blockbuster hit, World War Z. I had been anticipating it for a long time, and it didn’t fail to impress me with it’s non-stop intensity starting two minutes in and not ending until the credits roll.