Amid the strategies and ministry models and program initiatives that often dominate a church’s effort to get healthy and grow, don’t forget to pray!
In our western mindset, we easily become dependent on our ability to get things done. Working harder and working smarter are the ways we achieve excellence, and we expect that results will follow. If something’s not happening, we make it happen!
While this work ethic usually pays off–it has made our nation the one remaining super power–it often becomes a trap in spiritual pursuits. We think if we work harder for God we will get more of God’s results.
But there’s a problem with this thinking–it’s not valid. Yes, working harder will get you the best church you can build, but it won’t get you the church He can build. Yes, working harder honors God, but letting God work through us honors Him even more.
Jesus marked the difference between Martha and her sister, Mary. Many of us relate better to Martha ’cause we know hard work and taking care of things is the responsible way. Now Jesus wasn’t teaching against preparing food or covering life’s details, but there was something he listed as better. He said that Mary had chosen better because she had chosen to sit at His feet.
So what does that mean for modern church leaders? If you’re so wrapped up in your work that you’re not spending significant quality time with Jesus, well, you’re going to end up bitter and frustrated like Martha. Fact is, none of us can do spiritual work unless we are connected deeply to God himself.
I’ve met successful pastors who are demanding and ill-tempered. They are under such pressure to make it all work that they end up with lives no one else would want! Is that kingdom work?
Jesus said if we seek first His kingdom, He will meet our needs in extraordinary ways. But if we are determined to meet our own needs, it seems He will let us.
So, let prayer be your first step, your default strategy, in every leadership moment. Let Jesus carry the weight and He will lead you in the most productive paths. I think of numerous Old Testament battles where God’s people were over-matched and yet He fought for them and won bigger victories than they ever could have achieved. Shouldn’t our lives work like that too?
Remember God’s promise, If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Now that’s a church growth strategy!