Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Going Deeper Spiritually

During a great workshop with Tom Bandy at Friendship United Methodist Church (thanks to Mike Stonbraker and Hal Noble for making this happen.), a layperson asked, “What do you do when you want your church to grow but your pastor just won’t lead in evangelism?”
I thought Bandy would respond to the question with, “you need a different pastor,” or “you and the Board get together and insist that your pastor get busy.” Bandy said none of that. He responded, “If you want to change your church or your pastor, you need to go deeper spiritually, you will need to pray more and go deeper in Scripture.”

Wow. An organizational/management guru like Tom Bandy telling us we’ll never grow organizationally without growing spiritually? Lord help us if we think we can be faithful to Christ and achieve our priorities as a church on our own. Nothing Jesus commands us to do, does he command us to do by ourselves? This is Christ’s Church, not ours. Christ’s mission, not our program.

We ought to set our Conference priorities so high, ought to hold ourselves accountable to such lofty expectations, ought to demand such dramatic results, that if we do not go deeper spiritually, we will utterly fail.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a church move from maintenance to ministry, from decline to growth, from the chaplain to the church members, to a mission mover to the word where someone in leadership had not explained a new dimension of spiritual depth. It’s a God thing.
When I was made bishop, that day Bishop Marion Edwards hugged me and noted, “Friend, you are just about to experience a new dimension in your prayer life.”

I found this to be true.

William H. Willimon

7 comments:

gavin richardson said...

that is good, but i would have liked a little clarification point of answering the question to say. 'you run the church lay person, not your pastor, just go do it!'

i get miffed when excuses are passed on as the pastors fault for leading. they have a position, but it only as powerful as the people submit to them.

Anonymous said...

The question asked was "What do you do when you want your church to grow but your pastor just won’t lead in evangelism?"
What is with the link between church growth and evangelism? Do we really evangelize in order to grow our church? That seem to me to be a very problematic, self-centered motivation.

d†p said...

Gavin,

Perhaps it is because of a differnt theological background, but I tend to hesitate to say, "just go do it" to either pastors or parishoners.

If, as was noted, people spend more time in the word, and in individual and corporate fellwoship with God, it will happen.

Let me clarify, for a second, what I meant by spending time in the word. Luther was reputed to say that Christ was found on every page of scripture. We look at scripture, to find, as the Bereans did, that HIs promises are true, that He is always faithful, that we are His children.

That the gospel is indeed good news, and not just a rumor.

THe more we realize the treasure, the more we realize, in awe, what has been given to us, the more we desire that friends, families and coleagues know the peace we have.


Godspeed!

Larry McCallister said...

"Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a church move from maintenance to ministry, from decline to growth, from the chaplain to the church members, to a mission mover to the word where someone in leadership had not explained a new dimension of spiritual depth."

Bishop, this is good enough to steal! I'm going to post this on my website, (linked back to your site, of course).

Larry McCallister

Matt Tibbles said...

Thank you for your post. I appreciate growing deeper spiritually. I have found that many times we have focused too much on numbers and not enough on spiritually deep disciples who are listening to the Spirit's leading and who are paying attention to what God is doing in the world and perhaps participate with him.

All too often in my heritage we have been too focused on evangelism and not focused enough on discipleship.

I am encouraged to hear others more concerned about growing deeper spiritually.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you rock. Be encouraged.

Webmaster said...

Gavin, I think that when Bishop Willimon says taht we should set our conference expectations so high that we would fail without going deeper spiritually -- that we can make a line to the church and say the same thing.

The Church -- the congregation -- in conjunction with the pastor should set lofty goals for itself that it would fail unless the church members went deeper spiritually and also took their vows of prayers, presence, gifts and service so literally that every member had a minisry.