Theological Metric for Ministry- Credo Magazine:
By Pastor Tom Fillinger —
Do not, therefore, consider that soul winning is or can be secured by the multiplication of baptisms and the swelling of the size of your church. What mean these dispatches from the battlefield? ‘Last night… fifteen souls were justified…’ I am weary of this public bragging, this counting of un-hatched chickens, this exhibition of doubtful spoils. Lay aside such numberings of the people, such idle pretense of certifying in half a minute that which will need the testing of a lifetime. Hope for the best, but in your highest excitements be reasonable… if [a harvesting of responses] leads to idle boastings they will grieve the Holy Spirit, and work abounding evil” (Spurgeon, The Soul Winner, p. 16; The Downgrade Controversy).
God’s marvelous Church has become culturally irrelevant and even distant from its prime purpose of knowing Him, growing in Him, and worshipping Him by making disciples! This is evidenced by what is going on in our culture and in our church. Most of the statistics tell us that nearly 50% of Americans have no church home. In the 1980s, membership in the church had dropped almost 10%; then, in the 1990s, it worsened by another 12% drop—some denominations reporting a 40% drop in their membership. And now, over half way through the first decade of the 21st century, we are seeing the figures drop even more! (Richard J. Krejcir, Statistics and Reasons for Church Decline)
Furthermore, Barna adds, American consumers are demanding “practical faith experiences” over doctrine, “novelty and creativity, rather than predictability in religious experiences; and the need for time-shifting, rather than inflexible scheduling of religious events.” In an earlier book he said that the number one principle of Christian communication, as in any other, is that “the audience, not the message, is sovereign.” In other words, the customer is king.
But Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus Christ is King; that he came to inaugurate his kingdom, not to sell a product, and that he came to save sinners and make them co-heirs of his kingdom, not to satisfy consumers.
One of the places where we see this obvious contrast between consumer spirituality and Christ is in our Lord’s own teaching in John 6. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and the crowd eagerly sought him out. The day started out with lots of promise. Five thousand people had just been fed and they were ready for the next act. A free lunch was great, but wouldn’t a lavish dinner make Jesus the talk of the town? This could be his core group of seekers from which he could finally take his ministry global. But then it all began to fall apart and by the end of the episode, Jesus had driven nearly everybody away by teaching some of the most difficult doctrines thus far in his ministry. In this program we’re looking at John 6, what Robert Godfrey calls “Jesus’ Church-Shrinkage Seminar.” . . . The wisdom in Jesus’ strategy: better to have a dozen disciples than 5000 consumers (Consumers or Disciples? June 6, 2011).
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