Tuesday, January 19, 2010

People Leaving Your Church Might Be A Good Thing

Francis Chan with a very interesting article here. This is a portion that I resonate with to a great degree:
It is hard to be rejected. I hated it in junior high, and I still hate it today. It didn’t take long to learn how to fit in, in order to avoid the pain of rejection. That ability has stayed with me and begs me to use it. I know how to keep people from rejecting me and leaving the church. I know what words to say and which actions to take to keep people around. But when I do that, I’m no longer leading. I’m being led by the right or wrong desires of the people.

God calls us to give people what they need. Based on His word, regardless of whether they stick around. Jesus led. Few followed, but He kept leading.

Last summer I came to a shocking realization that I had to share with my wife: If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment. I know better how to cater to people’s desires so they stick around. Jesus was never really good at that. He was the one who said, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NIV) I’m much more popular than Jesus.

Having come to that conclusion, I came back to the church with resolve to call people to the same commitment Christ called them to. I knew that people would leave, and they have. I found comfort in that because, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26 NIV) Over time though, the conviction can fade, and it gets tiresome seeing people leave. There is a constant pull to try to keep people around rather than truly lead the faithful who remain. When my church was started, I used to tell my wife that I didn’t care if we only had ten people, as long as they really loved God and desired to worship Him with all of their hearts. Where is that conviction now?
Read the rest.


There is a danger here too.  Sometimes, "faithfulness" is just a cover word for being a stubborn idiot.  Many people take pride in the fact that their church is small because they are the only ones being "faithful" when what they really need to do is repent for the fact that they have failed to do God's mission and lead their people in it. 

Is it hard to discern the difference?  Certainly, but having the humility to allow people who love you and don't fear you speak into your life and evaluate you will probably help bring clarity.

(HT:  Carlos)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Guilty. As. Charged. I've been both sides of this...

I've been so giddy to see my ministries grow that I've allowed "fear of man" concerns to bite my tongue when the Spirit was prompting me to preach the harder teachings of the Scriptures.

By God's grace, I am learning that all Scripture is God-breathed, and suitable.

I've also been "that guy" who perversely misinterpreted the rejection of my self-righteous and heavy-handed apologetics discourses to mean that they "were not of us" and prided myself in being able to discern as such.

By the mercies of our loving Father, I continue in my attempt to emulate the Son in not quenching the smoldering or bending the bruised.

I am thankful for brother Chan's take on this, but yours as well brother Zach. Indeed, a posture of humility can go a long way in helping us discern the nuances in these equally troubling tendencies as servants unto His people.