Why Most Churches Aren't Growing
I’ve always thought the secret to church growth lies in small groups and helping people make meaningful connections. But something happened last year that radically shifted my perspective. I was speaking to a group of 14,000 church leaders in Brazil, and the passion the people carried was unlike anything I’d experienced. In a meeting afterward with the senior leaders, I discovered they had over 300,000 people in their church. Now that’s impressive, but what really struck me was the fact that sixteen years ago, they began with fewer than ten people meeting in a living room.
I proceeded to ask the obvious question, “How have you grown so quickly?” The senior pastor’s answer floored me. Without skipping a beat, he said, “We teach on eternal rewards and the Judgment Seat of Christ.” He continued, “I’ve been to America on numerous occasions, and I’ve noticed most of your people live with a 70-80 year vision. Your focus is on maximizing your life in the present. Our people live for eternity.”
When we live with an eternal perspective, everything changes.
Most Christians know that how we respond to the cross will determine where we will spend eternity. But far fewer understand that the way we live as believers now in this life will influence how we spend eternity.
Scripture is clear that not everything we do in this life will carry over into eternity. In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Paul warns us:
But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
I for one don’t want my life’s work to be burned up in fire. I want to take the grace entrusted to me and build something of lasting value so I can receive an eternal reward. And I want that for you too. But to get there, we need to live with intentionality in the here and now. We need to trade our short term vision for one that looks to the horizon of eternity.
When we do, our lives will make a significant impact for the kingdom and our churches will thrive.
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