You spent a lot of time trying to grow your ministry.Excuse me? Begging pardon? Spent a lot of time growing whose ministry? Wowie-wow-wow. I thought the church was the body of Christ, the physical representation of Jesus Christ's ministry here on earth. Seems pretty ballsy to supplant Jesus Christ with yourself as the head owner and visionary of his ministry.
Now I'm pretty sure if you asked any pastor if they agreed with this they would respond "Oh, no. This isn't my church. It's the Lord's church." And they may be sincerely convinced they believe it. But I'm going to challenge that a bit. My dear pastor, you may say it in word but do your actions show it when people meet?
Every church I've attended has the same general structure. The head of the church is a Bible-college-educated, possibly seminary-trained minister. Their occupational livelihood is to study Scripture, prepare a message and deliver it to the flock. They will surround themselves with some paid staff who probably were also Bible-college-educated. And when we gather together for Sunday worship these are the folks elected to lead from the front and address the congregation. They alone hold enough knowledge to rightly divide Scripture. They alone can be trusted to correctly hear what the Spirit says.
In other words it's the paid professionals who lead and the unpaid amateurs who follow.
Is this what church is supposed to be? I personally don't think so. The claim of Jesus Christ is that he alone is the mediator of humanity who removed the separation between us and God. It is through his death and resurrection that the veil was torn and we now have direct access to the throne room of heaven. This is the message of the gospel, that God is willing to go to any length to show us that he loves us, cares for us and ultimately has nothing but the best for each one of us.
When asked by a religious leader what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied it is to love God and love others. Loving God is a highly personal experience. It is an intimate encounter with the Maker and Creator of all things. It is knowing that he cares about you as an individual. There is no one in the world like you and you are exactly what God wants and longs for. Right here. Right now. He doesn't want the best you. He wants the real you. Loving God is really about allowing God to love you just as you are and not as you should be.
A tangible and physical way that God loves us today is through other people. He created us to need each other, to find a place of belonging where we can be with each other on our journey to the grave and the life to come. We weren't meant to walk life just by ourselves. We were meant to be with people. We have the desire and the need to be encouraged by others and to bring encouragement to others.
This is what I think the gathering of believers should be. The intention of our meeting should be to remind each other that God loves us. That he thinks the world of us. That we matter to him and to each other. That we are important because we have a unique sparkle and perspective of God that shines in each of us and the meeting would be a little bit dimmer if we weren't there.
Church should not be about the effectiveness of the pastor and the staff. It should not be about improving attendance, increasing giving and growing vision. It should not be measuring success the way the world measures success. It should be about growing in love. Growing in the love of God and growing in love for each other. It should be a place that embraces the outcast, brings importance to the insignificant and provides a home for the broken-hearted.