The Wrong Goal

“He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.  To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”  – Paul in Colossians 1:28-29.

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Many churches are short-sighted.  Many focus entirely on the number of people they can get out to church, and not on the spiritual growth of the people sitting in the pews.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to count how many people are coming out to church.  As the old axiom goes, you should “Count people, because people count.”  Every person is an eternal soul, and if the number of people coming out the church is not growing, or worse is getting smaller, then there is a problem.  A large Sunday morning attendance though, is only a small part of the picture.

I don’t think Christ had a large group of uncommitted undiscipled believers in mind when he pictured His church.  In fact, Christ always seemed to be running the uncommitted crowd away.  Yet, many churches seem content with filled pews.  They seem to think God is happy with a full church, yet Paul in Colossians 1 says that ultimately that is not what we are working towards.

“So that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”  That is the ultimate goal.   Mature believers, that is what churches should be counting in addition to Sunday attendance.  Not just how many people fill a pew, but also how many people are involved in ministry, how many people attend a small group, how many people are involved in personal evangelism, how many people are parenting their kids in a godly way, how many people are applying Biblical ethics in their marriage and their work, how many mature believers there are as a result of the church’s ministry.

It was to this end that Paul strenuously contended, and it should be the end that we work towards as well.

How to Pet a Porcupine

I discovered something new in a staff meeting a few weeks ago, and that is that you can pet a porcupine without getting hurt. I have never actually pet a porcupine, but I was told it is possible without a follow-up trip the hospital, if you do it correctly.


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If you want to pet a porcupine without getting stuck by a bunch of quills you don’t run up and startle it.  You don’t quickly scoop it up into your hands and give it a big hug.  If you want to pet a porcupine you have to develop trust with it.  First, you hold out your hand to see if it wants to come near and sniff you. Only after it sniffs you can you pet it, but you have to do it a certain way starting at the head and petting down.  To pet a porcupine any other way could potentially hurt…a lot.

Some people are a lot like porcupines. They have quills, and they will stick you if you handle them the wrong way.    You know the kind of people I am talking about, they tend to be a bit grouchy, pessimistic, standoffish and avoid personal contact, have a tendency to complain and point out the bad in a situation, etc…  These people tend to be a lot like porcupines.  If you run up and startle them you’re going to get hurt.  If you try to pressure them into doing something you’re going to get hurt.  If you cross their path in a way they don’t like, start looking for the nearest hospital.

To pet one of these porcupines requires developing trust just like a real porcupine. No, holding out your hand to see if they sniff you is probably not the best way to go about it, but spending time getting to know them is.  Learning about their perspective, their past, their priorities can give you insight in how best to go about working and getting along with them.  Taking the time to building trust with can go a very long way, and save you a lot of pain in the end.  Just as I am sure petting a real porcupine is an amazing experience, I know that getting someone who is a bit prickly on your side can be just as fulfilling.

Also, for those who are pastors of churches and have opportunity to work with porcupines, the reality is that they are also sheep in need of a good shepherd. They can’t simply be dismissed. You can’t just steer clear of them like you might a real porcupine in the wild. You have to learn to pet them.  You have to learn to lead them. So you might as well do it the right way, and save yourself some pain.

Unstoppable Momentum

2010 has been one record breaking high after another. Calvary concluded 2009 with an average attendance of 800.   In January, I wrote a blog post entitled “Record Breaking Weekend.”  That post highlighted a weekend in January where we had 986 in church, our highest attended non-Easter Sunday service to that date.  This past Sunday we had 1,094 in church, which was our highest attended Sunday ever…including previous Easters.

Being a bit of a geek I love to crunch numbers, and I know that having 1,094 people in church is way beyond where we should be statistically in 2010.  In fact, if average growth rates and stats held true, we should’t have 1,094 people in church for several more years.  But stats are not holding true, and there is something else going on. We have a little momentum.

Dave Ramsey says, “Focused intensity over time, multiplied by God, creates unstoppable momentum.”

Focused intensity – For over 20 years Calvary has been beating the same drum.  People, people, people, people…. Loving people, reaching out to people, including people,  ministering to people….  Calvary is laser focused on bringing people farther along in their relationship with Christ.  It is what we endeavor to do, everyday.  In fact, it is written into our core values, to “Love People.”

Multiplied by God – You can work your tail off, but if God isn’t behind your efforts, they won’t end up resulting in anything.  But when God is moving, get ready for a ride. And pray for it to continue, because one thing I have learned about momentum is that you do not take it for granted.  Without question, God is multiplying our efforts at Calvary.

Creates Unstoppable Momentum – I am praying that we are only seeing the beginning of what is going to happen in this season of our church’s life.  Although we have seen hundreds of new people come to Calvary in just a few months, I know that there are hundreds of thousands who are still without Christ is our surrounding neighborhoods.  I am praying that the momentum we are experiencing now allows us to reach more people in our community in the months. and years, ahead.