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Monday, January 5, 2015

Growing the Church with Positive People

I have never met a pastor who didn't love his own pastor as he grew up. He saw his pastor as a spiritual leader who helped to form his theology and walked with him as he struggled with his walk to go into the ministry. Most pastors thought that every other member of the church was exactly as they were. These pastors would charge hell with a water pistol if their pastors had called them to. They didn't know what their pastors had to deal with.

Thus, they went into the ministry not knowing that the people who would call them would turn on them if anything went wrong. The search committee who introduced these pastors to their new churches said that they could walk on water. It generally takes about six months before some of the people will say, "He can't even swim. He's drowning us!"

Obviously, no pastor is perfect. They all make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are severe. Yet, almost all of them are doing their best to lead their churches to make disciples. Too often, their churches have some damaged people who rebel against authority. These people are critical of all authority; complaining and criticizing all leaders. It doesn't matter if it is in politics or in their own jobs. They are thorns in the sides of everyone who has had to work with them. They haven't singled out their pastors. They treat all in authority equally.

Unfortunately, negative attitudes are contagious. Positive people will not join in negative people's conversations. They will leave the negative people to gather others to be negative. People who haven't made up their minds can go either direction. They are generally found with the loudest people.

As a general rule, it takes about 80% of the people to make positive decisions before a church can grow significantly. They have decided to work with the leadership. They have decided to get in the game. They will do whatever it takes to see success and do not care who gets the credit. Every pastor I know has some of these people in their churches. Every one of them wishes they had more. Every church which has unchurched people around it would grow if the people would make the decision to grow rather than be a hindrance to growth.

I believe God wants churches to grow. Bringing people to Christ is like invading a land that belonged to the devil and making it God's. It is a battle. It takes faith. Churches will never reach as many people with its own members sabotaging the efforts. It is necessary to for the people to get on board.

This is why Joshua had to have the people agree to follow his leadership before he led them to take the Promised Land. Their fathers had rebelled against Moses but had all died. They had followed Moses and agreed to follow Joshua.

One could say that Joshua was successful in leading the people to the Promised Land and Moses wasn't. Both were men of God. The difference was the negative people*.

Joshua 1:16-18 (ESV)
16  And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17  Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18  Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.” 

*Moses got so frustrated that he struck a rock when God only told him to speak to it. He was excluded from the Promised Land because of his anger.)

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