We have lived in a Christian culture that has in the last several decades focused on the word, GROW. So, GROW became the goal, the focus. GROW was to be accomplished at any cost. There have been all kinds of gimmicks for GROW. Pastors have submitted themselves to outlandish schemes to entice people to come to church like shaving their hair off, taking pies in the face, you name the gimmick; it has been done. Along came Seeker-Sensitive and churches became places for plays, concerts, feel good messages, relaxed atmospheres, anything that would make people of the world feel comfortable. While many of the changes for that purpose were good, the problem usually lie in the compromise of the messages to make the gospel fun or changing the gospel to a people centered semi-psychological therapy. The message of repent and be baptized was lost. Self help replaced conviction and conversion.
GROW is important, but I think we need to return to Bible GROW. Jesus’ idea of GROW is way different than ours. His GROW is a new birth. His GROW is repentance and forgiveness. His GROW is new life and new lifestyle reflecting the conversion. Also, his GROW sometimes meant the loss of followers, people walking away, people not following ever again. His GROW includes severe pruning sometimes.
It is hard for us to think that way. We equate numbers with growth. Our whole economy is based on growing. Corporations are always looking for 20% annual growth. If they do not get that number; they push the sales force and production to get their act together and do better. We judge our companies by their annual performance and place in the stock market.
The kingdom of God is different. GROW means adding souls to the kingdom through life changing conversion. GROW is defined also as becoming more like Jesus through progressive changes internally and externally as the Holy Spirit works. GROW has the component of community where the life change is shared with others. No growth is intended by hype, but by conviction of the Holy Spirit.
There are times where there are large in-gatherings. These come most times in a move of God, a revival of some sort, a world wide event of the Spirit. However, most growth comes from one by one interaction. Then, sadly, there are times of a great falling away as the Lord winnows the harvest. All this is contained in the scriptures, all of this is spoken of by Jesus. He gives parables explaining these things. There is even prophecy of a great falling away.
So, we must direct our attention to Jesus’ definition of GROW. Let the rejoicing be in one who comes out of the darkness, the lost condition, into the glorious light of salvation through repentance and forgiveness.