bits from bob....
In this series of eight articles, we are discussing church growth based on seven essential ingredients for "automatic" church growth. This eighth article summarizes the last of the quality characteristics.
Ultimately, the church is God's instrument in a "global search." It is important, but not sufficient, to touch and help meet the needs of our world, to focus on the signficance of others, to seek spiritual values, and to stand ready to meet the global needs around us, both physical and spiritual. These are important, but ultimately lacking, because God's eternal plan for the church is as his instrument in the global search for those who will submit to him, obey him, and honor his name by committing themselves to his eternal purpose.
We often talk about evangelism and missions, but I wonder if, at times, we are distracted by these words that have lost their meaning through overuse. Oh yes, evangelism--we ought to do more of that. Oh yes, missions--people in other countries need to hear the gospel.
While it is important that the gospel be proclaimed in public ways, a better metaphor for the work we are involved in is as a "search and rescue" party. We are to scour the countryside, look in every crevice and cranny, seek the lost of our world in every conceivable place. When we find them, we must provide basic needs. But finally, rcognizing that the greatest need of our world is eternal, we must seek to meet spiritual needs.
Churches that are growing by God's natural methods are churches in which members are acutely aware of and involved in the global search. Every day, in our daily routines, we are seeking the people who will be God's. This is the Great Commission in its literal reading, "As you are going, make disciples...." We are seeking people. We are holding up the hands of other seekers. We are training, encouraging, and involved in the seeking. When a church grows in this way, it is not accidental, but intentional. When members of a church are actively, individually involved in the global search and rescue, seeking diligently where they find themselves, the church grows. This does not require an evangelism program, but evangelistic people. Are we?
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