3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
I want my church to grow. I think that most pastors do. In fact, most are looking desperately for something that will not only have their churches grow but they are looking for something that will have them grow so fast and so big that they will be on the front page of the newspapers. A desire that deep opens us up to a lot of snake oil salesmen.
So, we hear of one seminar after another which promises to grow our churches. Another book comes out that we all flock to buy, read and implement. A brand new program is introduced which promises to be the last evangelism, discipleship, outreach, grow producing or you fill in the blank program that our churches will ever need. So our churches spend thousands of dollars sending us to seminars, we spend thousands of hours reading books and thousands of our church members go through the last programs we will need until the next last program.
When will we learn that these are just gimmicks with a Christian base? In some cases I believe even the seminar leaders, authors and program designers have duped themselves. They are so convincing because they are truly convinced themselves.
We will never be able to teach, preach or lead people into a forced encounter with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is like the wind who comes when He desires. We are trying to imitate Him rather than to depend upon Him in our churches. In fact, we love that idea. This way we can think that we have actually done something significant. Later, we can write our own books and lead our own seminars on how it was done.
But truly great revivals have all come through prayer. Often people have prayed for years with no apparent results. Finally, the Spirit arrives and everything is different. It was the instructions Jesus gave His disciples. He told them to wait until they received the Holy Spirit before branching out. Thousands got saved after the Holy Spirit came without one of the disciples going to a seminar, reading a book or starting a new program.
I am tired of the gimmicks. I have been guilty of going to every seminar, reading every book and starting every program that promised church growth. I have gathered around myself people who would tickle my ears; who would tell me what I wanted to hear.
Now I am realizing something that I didn't want to hear. My obedience to what the Lord has called me to do is all that is required. I should daily take up my cross and follow Jesus. I should respond to His commands. I should abide in His word. I should pray without ceasing. I should love others. I should make sure that God remains in the center of my life. My sermons and my leadership should come out of my relationship with Him.
The number of baptisms in my church have increased dramatically over the past year. There were no extra special emphases. We simply share the gospel. The only change is that we require everyone to write out how and why they gave their lives to Christ.
Thus, last Sunday night we baptized twenty people (including the Spanish mission that meets in our church. They baptized eight. ) and those who came heard twenty different testimonies or how and why they gave their lives to Christ. We can't make anyone trust in Christ. We had to admit that it was a "God thing."
Now, if we read that God will build His church, shouldn't we believe that He will do so?
I, for one, want to give up the Christian gimmicks.