Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Building a Congregation that is Strong in the Lord

Something special is happening in this church. We can see it! We can feel it! More importantly, we KNOW it! Our congregation continues to grow, the finances continue to increase, and the most amazing thing is that we aren’t doing anything to make it happen. We never solicit members and we never ask for money, yet God is moving in our midst.

We mentioned to everyone last Sunday that we are looking forward to the church anniversary celebration in March because we will probably get our first look at our entire church family, all together in one setting. Due to the various work schedules of those who attend this church, we have never seen everyone attending on the same Sunday.

From our perspective, we have a nearly different group of people each week. Yes, we have those who are able to attend every week and that group never waivers, but the majority have to deal with many factors in their lives that prevent them from attending every Sunday. Since the fall of 2005 we have been under 10 members. We would see slight increases and slight decreases, but remained unchanged. Since the spring of 2010, our attendance has more than tripled, and we can feel the rumblings of a coming wave.

Since we’ve been in the Pennsylvania United Church Center, not only have we seen growth, but we have seen growth in a particular way. God is touching the lives of families, beginning with OUR family. Ranging from cousins to a nephew, we are experiencing an answer to prayer. Other families are coming as they hear about the ministry or as they discover it on the internet.

Families are coming who are seeking freedom from religious bondage or deliverance from the carnal whims of church leaders who are in pursuit of fame and fortune.

Carol and I simply refuse to raise up a congregation that looks to the pastors for all their answers. We refuse to establish a church where the pastors become mini-celebrities. We refuse to raise a congregation that lives day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year, always wondering if they are ‘saved’ or not. It’s ridiculous to create an atmosphere where people can never know if they are pleasing God, and never be sure if whether they are holy enough, or if their mistakes and decisions have cost them their salvation.

For some of our members, these are non-issues in their life, but for most of the people to whom we have been sent, these are major obstacles and walls. Many seem to have been so rooted and steeped in works-based teaching, that what they are hearing now is like fresh air and new life.

By focusing on the law, many pastors have turned people away from grace and they preach another gospel. Galatians 3: 1 reads: "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?"

We refuse to become pastors who use people’s uncertainty about their standing in God to manipulate them into church attendance and tithing; causing them to try to maintain their salvation and righteousness by giving their time, talents and treasure to the church.

We desire to raise a congregation made up of families that are strong in the Lord. So we’ll continue to teach about the commitment the Lord has made to people. As we behold and understand the Lord's commitment to us, we are empowered to commit our lives to Him and our families.